The first PMQs of 2022 took place this afternoon at a later than usual 3 pm and thankfully they saved a few New Year’s fireworks for today.

Today’s lively offering saw chins wagging over booster jabs, inflation, and the energy crisis.

Labour leader Keir Starmer didn’t attend as he tested positive for Covid, so the party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner took the wheel instead

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So who came off best? Let’s take a look:

Johnson: “Anyone who has not yet done so should come forward and get boosted.” 10/10

The prime minister kicked off proceedings by urging people to get their third jab if they haven’t already.

As of yesterday, a combined total of 34,586,810 booster and third doses have been doled out, a day-on-day rise of 222,824.

We’re hitting him with top marks right out of the gate given how important the booster is in keeping people out of ICUs.

Rayner: “I’d like to thank the formidable Sue Grey who I know has been busier than Santa over the festive period.” 8/10

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner kicked off by paying tribute to the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu and by thanking those who worked over the Christmas break, particularly those who worked at vaccination sites.

She also thanked Sue Grey, a top civil servant who is now in charge of the Whitehall lockdown parties probe.

We enjoyed the topical Santa reference, and we wonder if the government will be getting proverbial coal in their stockings from Sue once she concludes her investigation…

Rayner: “Working people across the country are starting the new year facing rising bills and ballooning prices. So how did you get it so wrong?”, 10/10

Oof. A pointed question from Rayner.

Rayner cited how Johnson previously batted away inflation fears in October.

She warned that inflation could hit 6 per cent, the highest rate since the early 1990s.

Johnson’s response? Well…

Johnson: “I said no such thing.” 0/10

The prime minister has a short memory it seems, because he did - on camera.

In the Commons he said inflation is something we always have to be careful about but nonetheless for his short memory, the point for this exchange goes to Rayner.

Johnson: “We know the future job that [Rayner] has in mind, I wish her well.” 5/10

Responding to Rayner saying Labour are “ready to take over and provide Britain with a better future”, Johnson joked about how Rayner could one day come after his job.

The camera cut to Rayner giggling as the Commons erupted in roars.

A 5/10 given the amount of joviality it inspired in the Commons, with marks reduced as Johnson seems to have forgotten that she’s the deputy leader of Labour.

He said that there are 420,000 more people working than there were before the pandemic began, before going on to say that Labour’s “instinctive response” to Omicron was a “roadmap to lockdown”.

He added: “If we listen to them, we wouldn’t have anybody working at all.”

But what’s the truth here? On Twitter, The Guardian’s political correspondent Peter Walker said “as far as I remember [Labour] just called for plan B to be introduced.... which Johnson then did.”

Rayner: “I’ve heard on the grapevine there might be a vacancy for prime minister soon.” 10/10

An excellent comeback. And maybe her aspirations aren’t wholly unfounded…. 

She went on to say Johnson should be more “aspirational for this country”, as working families are “picking up the tab for his incompetence”.

She said: “His government has failed to invest in long-term energy security, his government decided to let gas storages collapse. His government let the energy market run out of control. 27 energy companies have gone bust in the last year. And now, household bills are going through the roofs.”

Johnson: “[Rayner] talks about energy. I think the House would agree she has got a lot more energy than the current leader.” 8/10

Poor Keir. But we’ll give Johnson this one.

Johnson: “We’ve been able to keep this country moving and keep the economy growing and keep the money coming into people’s pockets.” 4/10

Okay, but it doesn’t necessarily paint the full picture about what it’s like to work in the UK right now. There are staff shortages because people are isolating and NHS staff have been “reduced to tears” over the pressure.

It was reported today that Covid isolation rules may be relaxed to ease the shortages. This news follows the UK recording another 194,747 cases of the virus today, down from 218,724 yesterday.

Rayner: “Prime minister, how’s it going? Are you okay?” 10/10

We love a bit of sarcasm.

Before saying the prime minister and the chancellor have presided over “economic mismanagement, low growth, and neglect of our public services”, she hit him with a passive aggressive “are you okay?”.

She went on to say that taking into account the rising taxes with soaring energy prices, the average family faces a hit of £1,200.

Rayner: “It’s not about brushing your hair, it’s about brushing up on your act”. 10/10

Another little comment from Rayner, this time directed at Johnson’s mop.

She said inflation will have serious consequences and requires a serious solution, but “instead we have this prime minister with his incompetent leadership.”

She continued: “Does he accept his incompetence is taking our country backwards and costing our country dear?”

Johnson hit back by saying Labour failed to invest in supply which reduced our ability to have cheaper and cleaner energy today. He continued by speaking about economic growth, the unemployment rate, and again slammed how Labour “reached for the lever of more restrictions” when Omicron hit the UK.

Verdict

What better way to kick off the new year than with a lively parliamentary session? Rayner was in top form with her Santa references and sarcastic jabs.

Catching the PM out on his denial of his inflation comments gives Rayner the automatic win for this week.

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