He does so to hold the Government to account and give Johnson a chance to defend his record, but more often than not it descends into jeering and quips from both side. Ah, democracy.
After a break last week, the two returned today to clash on the government’s education policy, overseas aid, Israel and Palestine, and Starmer even asked Johnson to help the rest of the world catch up with vaccines.
Who came out top? Here’s who:
“The right honourable gentleman needs to do some maths, he needs to do some catch-up on his own mathematics.” - Johnson, 3/10
Following sustained criticism from Starmer about the Government’s school catch-up plan – after the man appointed as England’s education recovery commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins, resigned because the offer was too small – Johnson tried to deflect it with a naff joke about maths.
Cue no laugher at all. We now see why the fees for Eton are so extortionate...
“Who does he think he’s kidding?...If the Prime Minister doesn’t change course, this will hold Britain back for a generation.” - Starmer, 8/10
Starmer was undeterred and said the £1.4 billion plan would be the equivalent of just £22 per child, far less than offered in other countries in the West. Collins had, after all, called for £15 billion and Starmer said Johnson should have listened to the expert he had appointed.
“We have serious costed reforms, based on evidence, unlike anything he’s proposing.” - Johnson, 6/10
Johnson’s response was firm and he seemed to be clear that this plan would not, in fact, endanger the education of children across the nation but help those whose parents cannot afford private tuition. We have, however, seen Johnson firm when telling things that stray far from the truth before so we will have to wait and see what happens.
“It is Prime Minister’s Questions, it’s not about the agenda of the last general election”. - Hoyle, 10/10
Johnson has a habit of bringing up the last Labour manifesto at every turn. Whenever Starmer makes a point, Johnson harks back to something Jeremy Corbyn did, as though he’s forgotten that the party has radically changed its leadership.
Finally, the Speaker of the House, Lindsay Hoyle had enough and told Johnson to change the record when he brought up the Labour Party’s old stance on Ofsted. He also told him to answer the questions Starmer was asking him, which he duly ignored.
Later, the PM embarked on an exercise in oratory and started frothing about the Labour party. Hoyle cut him off to let MPs ask questions, prompting laughter from the chamber. Now that’s how you chair a debate.
“That would sound a lot better if the Prime Minister wasn’t the only G7 leader cutting his aid budget.” - Starmer, 8/10
After Johnson embarked on a self-congratulatory rant about the success of the coronavirus vaccine, Starmer was quick on his feet.
He quipped back about the Government’s temporary cuts to the UK’s overseas aid budget from 0.7 per cent of national income to 0.5 per cent – a move that triggered a Tory rebellion in the Commons, including from former Prime Minister Theresa May.
It was quick thinking and it left Johnson red-faced.
But regardless of that good point, there was one person who stood out as the victor of PMQs. So who won Prime Minister’s Questions this week? Well, the Speaker did.
Congratulations, Sir Lindsay, we’ll see you next week.