Watch: Boris Johnson swears during first PMQs in House of Commons

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By Chris Harris
Watch: Boris Johnson swears during first PMQs in House of Commons

Boris Johnson, taking his first weekly session of questions from MPs amid Brexit chaos today, swore as he took aim at the opposition’s economic policy.

It came as Johnson was engaged in some verbal jousting with Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party.

“The shadow education secretary says that their economic policy is — and I quote Mr Speaker by your leave — ‘shit or bust’,” said Johnson, to sounds of surprise from fellow MPs.

The phrase “shit or bust” means "all or nothing" but Johnson used both words in their most literal sense to make a joke

“I say it [Labour’s economic policy] is both,” he said to laughter.

“What this country needs is sensible, moderate, progressive, conservative government and to take this country out of the European Union on October 31 and that is what we are going to do."

Experts say that it’s not swearing that is prohibited in the House of Commons, but rather the context in which it’s said.

For example, there are examples of swearing in the official record of parliamentary proceedings, Hansard.

But it’s considered "unparliamentary language" if the swear word is used to insult someone, said Dr Philip Seargeant, a senior lecturer in applied linguistics at the Open University.

“Every now and again the odd strong term does get an airing in parliament,” he said. “For instance, in March this year, the SNP politician Mhairi Black became the first MP to use the word ‘c***’ in the chamber of the Commons.

"Importantly, though, she wasn’t directing it at anyone. She was speaking in a debate about misogyny and describing the type of abuse she regularly receives on social media.”