Boris Johnson did not have a very good day at Prime Minister's Questions time on Wednesday.
From getting schooled for a flippant (no pun intended) remark about flip-flops at the beach, to accusing Labour of using the recent Russia Report as an “Islingtonian Remainer plot to undermine” Brexit.
It was the last PMQs before a summer recess and Keir Starmer wasn’t holding back.
So here’s a roundup of Johnson’s embarrassing moments, where Starmer looked much more like the PM than him.
1. Starmer had the best response to Johnson accusing him of sitting ‘on his hands’ after the Salisbury attack
Starmer immediately went on the attack against the government about the recently published Russia Report, which found that Russia poses an “immediate and urgent threat to our national security”.
The Labour leader said:
The PM received that report 10 months ago. Given that the threat is described as ‘immediate and urgent’ why on Earth did the PM sit on that report for so long?
Johnson denied the accusation and said his government was “taking the strongest possible action against Russian wrongdoing”.
He then claimed Starmer “sat on his hands and said nothing” about the Salisbury attack.
I spent five years as Director of Public Prosecutions working on live operations with the security intelligence services, so I'm not going to take the lectures from the Prime Minister about national security.
A resurfaced video has since emerged that proves Starmer did condemn the Salisbury attack “without reservation”:
2. Starmer clapped back at Johnson’s bizarre flip flop joke
Johnson tried to accuse Starmer of having “more flip flops than Bournemouth beach” when Starmer pressed him on the lack of action regarding weaknesses in Britain’s national security.
The PM’s justification for this bizarre retort was apparently that Starmer hadn’t condemned his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn for appearing on Russian TV.
But Starmer coolly shot back:
This is the former columnist who wrote two versions of every article he ever published.
3. Johnson accused of laughing while Starmer asked a question about ‘forced sterilisation, murder and imprisonment’ in China
Starmer wanted to highlight the persecution of Uighur (or Uyghur) Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.
This question follows a video currently circulating across the media appearing to show people with shaved heads being blindfolded, surrounded by armed guards and waiting to be put on a train.
It’s widely understood Uighur Muslims are a persecuted minority in China, but it often seems like little is being done about it.
On this, Starmer said:
I want to ask the Prime Minister about the appalling persecution of the Uighur Muslims in China. We’ve all seen the footage of the Uighurs being herded onto trains and heard the heartbreaking stories of forced sterilisation, murder and imprisonment. We support the Foreign Secretary, the PM and the government in their strong and clear condemnation of China in recent weeks.
Footage then showed Boris Johnson laughing and smiling.
What further steps will the PM take and in particular, will he consider targeted sanctions against those responsible?
Johnson said the Foreign Secretary condemned the reports but then he looked at the Speaker of the House and asked, through laughter:
I don’t know how many more questions he’s got, since you allow him to come back and ask throughout this session.
The PM then randomly started talking about hospitals, police officers and nurses, which drew criticism on social media.
4. Johnson bizarrely railed against ‘Islingtonian Remainers’ and Starmer had the perfect response
Boris Johnson accused the Labour Party of trying to use the Russia Report as an “Islingtonian Remainer plot to undermine” Brexit.
This is about pressure from the Islingtonian Remainers who have seized on this report to try to give the impression that Russian interference was somehow responsible for Brexit… They should simply move on.
Starmer shot back:
I see the PM is already on his prepared lines.
He added that the report poses a “serious question of national security”:
One of the starkest conclusions in the report is that the UK is clearly a target for Russian disinformation campaigns. The report also highlights that this is being met with a fragmented response across Whitehall and across the government. The report refers to this as a hot potato, with no one organisation recognising itself as having the overall lead. That’s a serious gap in our defences. This is not about powers, it’s about responsibility.
Boris Johnson lived in Islington himself for a number of years... and his current adviser Dominic Cummings also lives in the London borough.