THE Speaker has delivered a damning verdict on the conduct of Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle repeatedly clashed with the Tory leader as he was grilled by Sir Keir Starmer about Conservative sleaze scandals.

The Prime Minister resorted to deliberately slurring his words so as not to be forced to withdraw his comments by the Speaker.

Starmer questioned if Johnson would back an investigation into contracts given to Randox – the diagnostics company which employed Owen Paterson – or “vote for another cover-up”.

Speaking in the Commons, the Labour leader said: “When somebody in my party misbehaves, I kick them out. When somebody in his party misbehaves, he tries to get them off the hook. I lead, he covers up.”

He went on: “We know Owen Paterson was a paid lobbyist for Randox, we know that he sat in a call between Randox and the minister responsible for handling health contracts, we know that Randox has been awarded Government contracts worth almost £600 million without competition or tender.

“Against that backdrop, the public are concerned that taxpayers’ money may have been influenced by paid lobbying.”

Starmer said a “full, transparent investigation” is required, something he said would be delivered if the Government backed a Labour motion in the Commons on Wednesday, asking: “Will he vote for it or will he vote for another cover-up?”

Johnson replied: “I’m very happy to publish all the details of the Randox contracts, which have been investigated by the National Audit Office already.”

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However, the Prime Minister ran into trouble with the Speaker when he tried to link Starmer to law firm Mishcon de Reya.

The Labour leader turned down a lucrative job at the company in 2017 while serving in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.

The Speaker told Johnson: “I don’t want to fall out about it, I’ve made it very clear – it is Prime Minister’s Questions, it’s not for the Opposition to answer your questions.

“Whether we like it or not those are the rules of the game that we’re all into and we play by the rules, don’t we? And we respect this House, so let’s respect the House.”

After Johnson attempted to ask again about the issue in a later exchange, the Speaker said: “Prime Minister, sit down. I’m not going to be challenged, you may be the Prime Minister of this country but in this House I’m in charge.”

Johnson later accused Sir Keir of “mish-conduct”, which prompted calls from the Labour benches for the comment to be withdrawn.

The Speaker said: “I don’t think this has done this House any good today. I’ll be quite honest, I think it’s been ill-tempered, I think it shows the public that this House has not learnt from the other week, I need this House to gain respect but it starts by individuals showing respect for each other.”

Earlier, the Prime Minister refused to apologise for the Paterson affair but repeated it was a “mistake” to conflate the issue with reforming the standards process more generally.

He also said he will study proposals to curb peerages for large party donors only when other parties stop taking funds from the unions.