Clash in U.K. Parliament over Johnson-Modi handshake by-election leaflet

By The Hindu

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Opposition Leader Keir Starmer clashed in the House of Commons over a controversial by-election leaflet, which had been branded “divisive” and “anti-India” by Indian diaspora groups in Britain.

During a heated debate over the issue of racism at the Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) session on Wednesday, Mr. Johnson held up the leaflet showing him in a handshake with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G7 Summit in 2019 with the message “Don’t risk a Tory MP who is not on your side”.

He demanded the Labour Leader retract the leaflet used at the recent by-election for the constituency of Batley and Spen in northern England, a seat held by the Opposition party.

“May I ask him now to retract this leaflet I have here that was produced by the Labour party during the Batley and Spen by-election, which was condemned by his own MPs as ‘dog-whistle racism’,” Mr. Johnson said.

However, the Labour Leader skirted around the remark to continue his tirade against the ruling Conservative Party for not fighting back against racist abuse faced by England’s footballers on the pitch.

“This is really simple, either the Prime Minister is with the England players in their stand against racism or he can defend his own record, and that of his ministers and some of his MPs, but he cannot have it both ways. Can he tell the House whether he now regrets failing to condemn those who booed England’s players for standing up to racism,” said Starmer.

He made specific reference to U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel, as he referenced England team footballer Tyrone Mings recently pointing to some of the senior Cabinet minister’s remarks serving to “stoke the fire” of racism and hatred.

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