APRIL 5 — Law student Tommaso Johannes Forni shared an astute observation of former British prime minister Boris Johnson whom he said rarely answered questions during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). He wrote:
“In the vast majority of cases, when faced with a tricky, critical question launched by opposition MPs who rightly want to challenge the government and scrutinize its policies, Boris Johnson simply dodges the question and goes on to talk about what he thinks the government is doing well.”
A classic example, according to Forni, was on April 28, 2021. The topic of debate was the refurbishment of the prime minister’s flat and whether he had broken any rules during the refurbishment process.
The leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer asked the prime minister to confirm whether Lord Brownlow, with an estimated £271m fortune, had made a payment of £58,000 to help pay for the refurbishment.
It was a simple, yes-or-no question but the prime minister’s answer was vague and irrelevant. When the prime minister continued to be evasive, an exasperated Starmer exclaimed: “Answer the question! The prime minister hasn’t answered the question, he knows he hasn’t answered the question, he never answers the question!”
On one occasion during the PMQs, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, had to intervene twice to remind the prime minister that he needed to answer the question.
The above is also a classic example of the leader of the opposition in attendance during PMQs even as the prime minister dodged questions and avoided scrutiny of Members of Parliament.
While PMQs may be flawed as a mechanism for scrutiny and accountability, it does not provide an excuse to be absent from the session.
*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.