'Totally deluded to the bitter end': Starmer scolds Johnson in penultimate PMQs
Indy

We all know what it is like when you've handed in your notice at a job.

Sure, you promise to continue your duties to the best of your abilities, come in every day on time and write a comprehensive handover to your replacement - but it is all talk.

Notice periods are employment purgatories, and as you count the days you have left in your role, standards slip. Soon enough, a 9am start becomes 9.15am, corners that are usually cut get slashed, post work drinks go on later than they should because, why not? You are leaving.

And nothing takes the wind out of your sails more than leaving because treacherous colleagues, en masse, decide they've had enough of you, we'd imagine.

All this is to say - it was never going to be great when outgoing Boris Johnson faced opposition leader Keir Starmer today for another edition of PMQs. We weren't expecting enthusiasm, and certainly no miracles and as the two discussed the leadership candidates bidding to replace Johnson, our expectations proved correct.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

So, let us humour the question once more. Who won PMQs? Oh who could possibly have won indeed...

Starmer: "It is truly the country's loss that they will only be in post for a few weeks," 8/10

Starmer started things off by describing the new cabinet ministers Johnson has appointed and pointed out their embarrassing gaffes , like the new education minister getting aggy with protestors for instance. After snubbing them he joked that Johnson must be pleased to leave office so he doesn't have to "follow rules" before asking about the tax affairs of those standing to replace the PM.

Johnson: "I am focussing on continuing the government of the country," 2/10

Johnson trotted out his usual refrain and wanged on about the "strong economy" that just about no-one is experiencing given a little thing called the cost of living crisis. Desperate stuff.

Starmer: He has a "mortgage size redecoration bill for soon to be somebody' elses flat," 7/10

Then Starmer couldn't resist twisting the knife and mocked Johnson over his controversial flat redecoration. It must burn quite a lot to know you have spent big bucks on a flat you are leaving...

Johnson: "Any one of them would wipe the floor with Captain Crasheroony Snoozefest," -100/10

So no wonder Johnson replied aggressively once more and unveiled the most embarrassing new nickname for Starmer that we have ever seen, when questioned about the tax affairs of leadership candidates. It genuinely made us grimace and if he wasn't already halfway out the door we'd believe it to be a resigning matter.

Starmer: "They're acting like they've just arrived from the moon acting like it should never have happened," 7/10

Next Starmer questioned why members of Johnson's old cabinet who are running for leader are promising to cut tax when - while in Johnson's government - they backed increases. Starmer said it how it is and picked at the seams of the candidate's integrity, meaning he is already opposing whoever gets in with incredible skill.

And after Johnson retched out nonsense in response about how great the candidates standing to replace him are, the leader of the opposition shot him a withering look and said he was "totally deluded to the bitter end."

Agreed.

Johnson: "We took the tough decisions... to get out of lockdown which he said was reckless," 0/10

It is almost the year anniversary of the end of lockdown restrictions, Covid has not gone away by the way, and Johnson is still praising himself for his handling of the pandemic. It is almost as if he thought that, as PM, he could do one half competent thing then coast for the rest of his premiership.

Starmer replied: "I am really going to miss this weekly nonsense from him." Do you know what? We don't believe him for a second.

Johnson: "He's considerably been less lethal than other members of this house. He's never really come up with an idea, a plan or a vision for this country," 1/10

Finally, and after Starmer slammed Sunak for vowing to fix the economy despite having just served as, you know, the literal chancellor, Johnson spent time in what could be his last edition of PMQs by, ahem, paying 'tribute' to his opposition leader.

It would all be very well if Starmer hadn't literally come up with a windfall tax policy that Johnson's government duly used, set out how his government would handle the economy and Brexit and is obviously in opposition limiting just how much he can do.

Johnson ended things with his favourite words - with some in between of course: "Brexit". "Vaccines". "Ukraine". He concluded: "I will be leaving soon with my head held high."

Don't forget to turn the lights out on your way out.

Verdict

Like we say, it is never easy leaving a job. Even if you are Boris Johnson.

So no wonder he could barely be bothered to push out his tired lines and no wonder Starmer could barely be bothered to press him.

They played out the same pantomime for the sake of it and fell into the usual back and forths like two old friends reminiscing about old times.

Starmer did well by subtly scrutinising his potential new opponents, via questions to Johnson, but why bother attacking Johnson himself?

After all, he's leaving.

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.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)