Watch live as Boris Johnson faces Keir Starmer at PMQs
With the long-awaited Sue Gray report into Downing Street lockdown parties released today, many may have thought that this week’s main topic of discussion at PMQs would be its findings.
But instead, the debate focussed substantially on the devastating cost of living crisis, with only a couple of brief passing mentions of the report itself from Keir Starmer, while Boris Johnson attempted to justify what his government has done to help ease the crisis for Britons.
Who performed well and who didn’t this week?
Starmer: “I’m told that hindsight is a wonderful thing, but Mr Speaker, whilst he dithered and delayed, households across the country suffered when they didn’t need to.” 9/10
After weeks of calling for a windfall tax on the huge profits of energy companies, Starmer expertly referred to his own nickname of “Captain Hindsight” to turn the joke around on Johnson, as the PM once again changed his mind.
Only last week, Johnson ordered his MPs to vote against a windfall tax, but now, “surprise surprise”, appears to be backing the idea suspiciously close to the release of Sue Gray’s report.
Johnson: “There is no surprise about Labour’s lust to put up taxes. There’s nothing original about his thought. They get off on it. They absolutely love to confiscate other people’s assets.” 1/10
By “other people’s assets” we can only assume Johnson means the oil and gas companies that are making eye-watering profits while the bills of everyday people continue to climb beyond being affordable.
Shell made a record-breaking quarterly profit of $9.1bn (£7.3bn) this year. Labour has continued to argue that a one-off windfall tax on those profits could be used towards reducing the energy bills of the millions who are struggling.
Starmer: “What is it about the Sue Gray report that first attracted him to a U-turn this week.” 8/10
Starmer once again hit Johnson where it hurts by not-so-subtly implying that his windfall tax U-turn was a distraction tactic against the potentially damning report by the senior servant.
His remark also helped remind us that this government is prone to last-minute decision changes.
Starmer: “He talks about running this country down. He is running this country down.” 6/10
Given the ongoing scandals surrounding the PM and the public’s trust in the government ever-dwindling, this was an easy dunk on Johnson, who had earlier criticised Starmer for being downbeat about the state of the country.
Johnson: “We got Brexit done… We got the vaccine rollout done… We were the first European country to help the Ukrainians resist Vladimir Putin.” 2/10
You know it’s a bad day at the office for Johnson when he has to reach for his Brexit and vaccine ‘get of jail free’ card, especially when it comes in response to a question about passport delays.
Johnson said that he believes everyone who applies is getting their passport between “4 to 6 weeks”, which received sarcastic laughs from those on the opposite bench who have heard differently from constituents.
Johnson: “He campaigned to put Vladimir Corbyn… I mean, sorry, Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.” 2/10
Carrying on from his greatest hits rant about Brexit and the vaccine that we’ve all heard before, Johnson went onto something else we’ve heard a million times – criticising Starmer for supporting Corbyn once upon a time with a lame joke comparing the former Labour MP to Putin.
Since then, Starmer has refused to restore the Labour whip to Corbyn that would allow him to stand as an MP again after a statement he made in response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report on antisemitism.
While there was plenty of passion on show from the Conservative leader, there was very little substance to his remarks about how he is helping ease the cost of living crisis.
Johnson may have been grateful that the Sue Gray report was, somewhat surprisingly, left alone for now, his responses to the cost of living weren't much easier and saw him reaching again for his tired repertoire.
Thanks to Johnson’s U-turn on windfall tax, Starmer had a winning hand with which to play and certainly made the most of it, with puns that also did the job of revealing truths about the Tory government.
Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.