It’s that time again when two men in suits shout at each other while pretending to be addressing a “Mr Speaker” who is actually called Mr Hoyle, armed with puns and cheap jokes, then go about their day.
We are referring to, of course, PMQs. A great contribution to transparency that holds the government to account but actually just allows politics fans to rub their hands together in glee while eating popcorn.
A nice loaded question from Starmer launched proceedings and Johnson was backed into a corner. Whether it was or wasn’t the right thing to do, Johnson DID respond to a text from Dyson and it was later announced that the tax status of people who came to the UK to provide help during the pandemic would not be affected.
Johnson said he made no apology for “shifting heaven and earth” to secure the ventilators but there’s still plenty of concern around the issue. And, as the UK didn’t even use Dyson’s ventilators in the end, but the tax rules remained changed, questions continue to be asked.
Keir Starmer is tackling the PM on the Dyson texts. PM says he wanted to “move heaven and earth” to get hold of ven… https://t.co/bT1bBVkGsd
“It was entirely the right thing to do to work will all potential makers of ventilators at that time and, by the way, so does the former leader of the Labour Party, a man to whom I think he should listen, Tony Blair.” Johnson, 5/10
As a persuasive argument technique, saying “I think this is right and look at everyone who agrees with me” is a bit childish but entertaining. He does, however, have a point about acting in a crisis – though he misses the point about tax breaks.
He gets points purely for the optics crisis he will create, as those on the left will surely fall over themselves to present this endorsement of Johnson by Blair and vice versa as ‘proof’ that New Labour was right-wing.
“Is it now quite literally one rule for those who’ve got the Prime Minister’s phone number, another rule for everyone else?” Starmer 5/10
Another attack from Starmer that hit the mark but wasn’t exactly rousing, rhetorically. Johnson went on a typical rant using statistics which we’re sure will be fact-checked later, and even managed to shoehorn in a line about how great Brexit is, in response.
“This shows once again that favours, privileged access, tax breaks for mates, they are the main currency of the Conservative government... If a NHS nurse who’s been working on the frontline during the pandemic had the Prime Minister’s phone number would they get they pay rise they so obviously deserve,” Starmer 9/10
Keir Starmer asks Boris Johnson whether nurses will get "the pay rise they deserve" if they have the PM's private phone number #pmqs
There we have it. Not the rhetoric we deserved, but the rhetoric we needed from Starmer. Johnson was startled and mumbled out a reply about taking “tough decisions” to “get things done”. Clear win for Starmer on this front.
“If I had to correct the Prime Minister for everything he gets wrong I’ll be here all day.” Starmer 7/10
Snarky comments like these are the only reason people watch PMQs. Starmer clearly knows it, and his sassiness delivers.
“Mr Speaker if I have to correct the Prime Minister on everything he gets wrong I’ll be here all day” @Keir_Starmer… https://t.co/sEeu8Oa5hR
“The difference between us and the Labour Party is I’m afraid, staringly obvious... We get on with taking the tough decisions to protect the people of this country and to take our country forward. Captain Hindsight snipes continually from the sidelines.” Johnson 9/10
Nobody can deny that Johnson didn’t have the last word during this performance and he well and truly shut Starmer down. He’s used the Captain Hindsight jibe a few times in the past, but it got the job done.
Overall this was a fairly average performance from both blokes. Both repeated old insults. But ultimately, the Dyson controversy meant it was easy to take Johnson down, and so Starmer emerged as victor again.
And many agree:
That felt to me like another pretty good #PMQs for Keir Starmer. Going in on sleaze lets him embrace his inner barr… https://t.co/u8STBEnClw