How David Davis invoked WW2 in damning attack on PM – Neville Chamberlain quote in full

David Davis tells Boris Johnson 'in the name of God, go'

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Today’s Prime Minister’s Questions will likely go down as one of the most dramatic of 2022, with Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer locked in a furious war of words. But while Sir Keir stood in front of a united Labour padded by new Tory convert Christian Wakeford, Mr Johnson faced an attack from his own sides. Even David Davis, a former staunch ally of the Prime Minister, publicly became the latest MP to call for his resignation as he invoked the words of Leo Amery, a 20th century Tory MP who sparked the downfall of Neville Chamberlain in 1940.

Mr Amery spoke during the famed “Noway debate” of 1940, which covered the failure to prevent the German army from seizing Norway after an invasion on April 9.

Over three days, discussions ultimately crossed into the effectiveness of the Chamberlain government.

Mr Amery’s speech began in an empty chamber at 8.03am and concluded with a call to arms.

And the full text may remind you of a certain impassioned speech heard in the Commons this afternoon.

Speaking in 1940, Mr Amery said: “Somehow or other we must get into the Government men who can match our enemies in fighting spirit, in daring, in resolution and in thirst for victory.

“Some 300 years ago, when this House found that its troops were being beaten again and again by the dash and daring of the Cavaliers, by Prince Rupert’s Cavalry, Oliver Cromwell spoke to John Hampden.

“In one of his speeches, he recounted what he said. It was this: I said to him, ‘Your troops are most of them old, decayed serving men and tapsters and such kind of fellows.”

“‘You must get men of a spirit that are likely to go as far as they[e] will go, or you will be beaten still’.”

“It may not be easy to find these men. They can be found only by trial and by ruthlessly discarding all who fail and have their failings discovered.

“We are fighting today for our life, for our liberty, for our all; we cannot go on being led as we are.

“I have quoted certain words of Oliver Cromwell. I will quote certain other words.

“I do it with great reluctance because I am speaking of those who are old friends and associates of mine, but they are words which, I think, are applicable to the present situation.”

“This is what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation: ‘You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.'”

Mr Chamberlain resigned one day after the debate concluded, which led MPs across the lower House to unite under Sir Winston Churchill – marking a huge shift in British politics.

When Mr Davis spoke the quote, he told Mr Johnson it “may be familiar to his ear”, but the Prime Minister claimed the opposite.

Several political pundits have pointed out the irony of this, as Mr Johnson once wrote a biography of the legendary PM.

Writing on Twitter, Dr Charlotte Lydia Riley said the moment was “entirely in keeping that he would have written a book about Winston Churchill but not recognise the line with which a Conservative MP ushered Churchill into power.”

MSP Angus Robertson added: “Boris Johnson claims not to understand the Covid rules he wrote.

“Now the Prime Minister doesn’t remember the most famous quote which led to premiership of Winston Churchill, whose biography he wrote.

Gordon Rayner, the Daily Telegraph associate editor, said: “For a man who idolises Winston Churchill, being compared with Neville Chamberlain was perhaps the ultimate insult.”

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