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Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 10:32 GMT
Boateng under fire over 'puke' jibe
Paul Boateng
Mr Boateng was accused of 'ranting'
Cabinet minister Paul Boateng said Michael Howard made him "want to puke" during a TV clash with the shadow chancellor.


Paul, short of slapping my hand over your mouth there is nothing I can do but to tell you to stop talking

Kirsty Young
Mr Boateng made his outburst as the two men debated the pre-Budget report on Channel Five.

The chief treasury secretary, who became Britain's first black cabinet minister in May, grew increasingly agitated as Mr Howard attacked Chancellor Gordon Brown's economic forecasts.

But it was a reference to a recent Ofsted report suggesting reading standards had fallen in the last two years that proved the final straw.

"It makes me want to puke, quite frankly, hearing the efforts of teachers and school governors traduced in this way," Mr Boateng stormed.

'Rant'

Mr Howard responded by saying he was "appalled" to see a Cabinet minister "thrust aside" such a serious report.

Earlier, struggling to be heard over Mr Boateng's protests, he said: "I didn't interrupt you during your rant."

As the debate was wound up, Mr Boateng was rebuked by presenter Kirsty Young as he continued to press his points.

"Paul, short of slapping my hand over your mouth there is nothing I can do but to tell you to stop talking," she said.

Commenting on Mr Boateng's outburst, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesman Matthew Taylor said: "It is no surprise that government ministers are resorting to abuse when they know that the UK economy, in reality, is doing far worse than they admit."


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