Keir Starmer’s first few weeks on the job have been unorthodox to say the least.
First, he was elected Labour leader from a distance, after the ceremony had to be cancelled because of Covid-19. And his first few weeks on the job have been grappling with one of the most difficult challenges humans have faced.
So, all in all, it’s been a pretty odd time to be a new leader of the opposition.
Starmer has had mixed reviews in his outings at PMQs so far. First he was heralded as “forensic” for the way he picked apart acting prime minister Dominic Raab. But then he was labelled “spineless” for going to easy on the government and appearing to praise its coronavirus response.
Now, though, Boris Johnson was back in the chamber (following his own battle with Covid-19 and the birth of his son Wilfred) and the pressure was really on.
And judging by the response online, Starmer didn’t disappoint.
Starmer criticised Johnson’s description of the government’s handling of the crisis as an “apparent success” considering that the UK’s death toll is now the second-highest in the world and the highest in Europe.
How on earth did it come to this?
In an almost empty chamber, Johnson struggled to answer, even calling the statistics “appalling” himself. He said that he didn’t think that data was there to draw conclusions from “international comparisons”.
Starmer then questioned why international comparisons can’t be made when the government has been using slides which graph the deaths and infections in other countries “for weeks”.
He then held up an example in the chamber, which was a bit awkward, before concluding:
I’m afraid that many people are concluding that the answer to my question is that the UK was slow on lockdown, slow on testing, slow on tracing and slow on the supply of protective equipment.
On Twitter, people were impressed with Starmer's performance and less so with the PM's.
THIS is what real leadership looks like. #PMQs https://t.co/Hmt5NNY2Dc