Keir Starmer accuses PM of playing 'Jedi mind tricks' with the country

Another Wednesday brings another edition of PMQs.

Last week, Keir Starmer gave a slightly lackluster performance despite Boris Johnson's less than resounding no-confidence vote win.

Seven days later and the politicians have a whole new set of issues to chew over, with the ECHR thwarting the government's first implementation of the controversial Rwanda plan and the cost of living crisis continuing to cause problems.

Did Starmer turn it around this time or did Johnson take the win?

Let's take a look:

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Johnson: He should "end his sphinx like silence on the RMT strikes coming up" 1/10

After Starmer criticised the government for not dealing with the economy, Johnson brought up upcoming train strikes and urged the Labour leader to take a view. But it is prime minister's questions not questions to the opposition and speaker of the house Sir Lindsay Hoyle had to remind Johnson of just that.

Starmer: "He's in government, he could do something to stop the strikes" 10/10

Starmer seemed pretty wound up and made this eminently fair point. "He wants the country to grind to a halt so he can feed off the division," he added, before bringing up his first pop culture reference of the day which was... quite something...

Starmer: "He thinks he can perform Jedi mind tricks on the country... but the force just isn't with him anymore... he thinks he's Obi-Wan Kenobi... he's Jabba the Hutt," 6/10

My word. It's always a bit odd when politicians bring up films but it's nice to see that Starmer has a Disney+ subscription. At least it gave people on social media something to talk about.

Johnson: Stop "running this country down," 2/10

In response, Johnson misunderstood the point of an opposition leader and asked Starmer to be nice about Johnson and his government, please! He'll be waiting a long time for that to happen...

Starmer: "He's game playing so much, he thinks he's on Love Island... but contestants who give the public the ick get booted out," 10/10

Then Starmer made his second (!) pop culture reference and it was a crossover we didn't expect to see. We can't decide whether Starmer knowing what both "the ick" and Love Island are is iconic and a way to win the youth vote or cheugy but we are leaning to the former. You be the judge.

Johnson: "We're helping people with the cost of living" 1/10

In response, Johnson served up another one of his vacuous phrases and shouted key words like "paid employment" without saying very much at all.

Starmer: "Week after week he spouts the same nonsense" 9/10

Starmer's reply really summed it up. What else is there to say?

Johnson: "He's positively dynamic compared to [Starmer]" 3/10

Then, after Corbyn was brought up (again) this time by Starmer, Johnson snubbed them both with this comparison. Can we stop talking about leaders gone by please?


Someone must have had a word with Starmer after last week's performance - or at least given him a coffee. This time, he came to the house with zinger after zinger and line after line and sounded genuinely fired up.

Let's be honest - it was a little cringe and a bit of overkill but some of the jokes landed and when he really laid into Johnson at the end and asked Tory MPs to admit to saying snarky comments about their leader, we saw a charismatic leader in action.

Johnson on the other hand, as Starmer said, "spouted" the same lines about the economy being great and kept pushing a conversation about upcoming train strikes, so is it a clear win for the leader of the opposition?

Not exactly. Like last week, when Starmer focussed on the NHS rather than no-confidence vote, we turned off our televisions feeling a little bit confused.

Again, Starmer missed the biggest news of the day - the government's controversial Rwanda programme. Given Starmer has an illustrious legal background he surely would have been well placed to get one over Johnson about the ECHR blocking the first flights and regardless, it is an incredibly serious issue that deserves scrutiny.

No winners this time, then.

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