But Mr Sunak was conspicuous by his absence after he tweeted this morning that he was ‘excited to be in Ilfracombe’ in Devon to visit a business.
PMQs saw Mr Johnson apologise over the ‘socially distanced drinks’ event held in the Number 10 garden on May 20, 2020, but not a single Tory MP commented on the matter.
Instead they asked the PM questions about fossils, washing machine technology and axing the BBC licence fee.
Rishi Sunak today abandoned Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions as the Chancellor visited Devon instead while Tory MPs steered clear of asking the PM about the Number 10 party row
Mr Sunak was conspicuous by his absence at PMQs after he tweeted this morning that he was ‘excited to be in Ilfracombe’ in Devon to visit a business
PMQs saw Mr Johnson apologise over the ‘socially distanced drinks’ event held in the Number 10 garden on May 20, 2020, but not a single Tory MP commented on the matter
Mr Sunak revealed in a tweet published this morning that he would not be attending PMQs as Mr Johnson braced for the toughest grilling of his premiership.
The Chancellor tweeted: ‘Excited to be in Ilfracombe this morning with @SelaineSaxby.
‘Im visiting @PallCorporation who protect & purify pharmaceutical drugs including a majority of UK Covid vaccines.
‘They’re announcing £60 million of investment at this site creating 200 new local jobs #PlanForJobs.’
The Chancellor’s aides insisted the trip had been in the Treasury diary for some time but his absence will inevitably fuel speculation of a future Tory leadership bid.
Mr Johnson was cheered by Conservative MPs when he took his seat in the House of Commons just before the start of PMQs.
But they were silent as Mr Johnson apologised over the May 20 event and said that he had ‘learned enough to know that there were things we simply did not get right and I must take responsibility’.
Mr Johnson faced a battering from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who labelled him a ‘man without shame’ and called on him to resign while opposition MPs also slammed the PM.
But Conservative backbenchers avoided asking questions or commenting on the party row, as they awkwardly focused on other topics during PMQs.
Tory MP Alberto Costa asked Mr Johnson about washing machine technology, prompting laughter and jeers from the opposition benches.
He said: ‘Washing machine manufacturers are considering installing microfibre filter systems in all new washing machines. Will the Prime Minister ask his ministers…’
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle was forced to intervene to calm the Commons before Mr Costa continued: ‘People laughing at plastic pollution, Mr Speaker.
Mr Johnson faced a battering from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who labelled him a ‘man without shame’ and called on him to resign
‘Will the Prime Minister ask his ministers to look into the viability of my bill which has cross-party support and seeks to introduce inexpensive micro-plastic filters on all new washing machines?’
Mr Johnson replied: ‘Well, I want to thank my honourable friend for this campaign and I believe that we should tackle micro-plastic pollution Mr Speaker and I am glad that DEFRA are looking at the introduction of legislation for microfibre filters on washing machines and as a cost beneficial solution.’
Tory backbencher Peter Bone asked the PM to support his efforts to abolish the BBC licence fee.
He said: ‘This Friday, my Private Member’s Bill, BBC Licence Fee (Abolition), gets its second reading.
‘It will abolish the BBC licence fee and require the BBC to be funded by subscription. In this day and age it is ridiculous to have a state broadcaster. It is ridiculous that people are forced to pay a fee just because they have a television.
‘And what is totally wrong is people who believe the BBC to be institutionally biased have to subsidise it. Will the Prime Minister, if he is free on Friday, come along and support the bill?’
Mr Johnson said: ‘I have high respect for the media judgement of my honourable friend and though I understand some of his strictures about the BBC, Mr Speaker, I would also say that it is a great national institution.’
Tory MP Alicia Kearns sought support from the PM to preserve recent historic discoveries in her Rutland and Melton constituency.
She said: ‘The motto of England’s smallest county, Rutland, is “Multum in Parvo”, much in little and never has that been more true than the last two weeks.
‘The greatest Roman discovery in 200 years, an Ichthyosaur, the greatest fossil discovery in 100 years.
‘So will he please support us to build a new tourism industry and two heritage museums in Rutland to preserve these amazing discoveries in our county.’
Mr Johnson said: ‘Well, I am agog. I am longing to come and see these extraordinary additions to the cultural heritage of Rutland and I thank her for drawing it to my attention and look forward to making a visit as soon as I can.’
‘PM in waiting’ Rishi Sunak abandons Boris Johnson at PMQs