Johnson calls Starmer 'human weathervane' as PM deflects question over partygate scandal
It is time again for PMQs.
The time, when the prime minister Boris Johnson and leader of the opposition Keir Starmer go head to head in the House of Commons with one real aim only - to come out looking like the better politician.
This time, the session followed Johnson taking his MPs out to a fancy dinner in Westminster to "bond" amid friction among his ranks, with some still calling for him to resign.
Did he get everyone on his side to cheer him on or were they all too hungover to bother?
After Starmer gave Johnson a talking to over the tax increases in the spring statement, Johnson did some quick spinning and claimed increasing the threshold people earn before they pay the increased national insurance meant the Tories were cutting tax.
He said the Labour Party "love" tax, which is just a deeply odd comment.
Boris Johnson says he "certainly" sees himself as a tax-cutting Conservative.\n\nHere's what his tax plans look like, according to the government's own Office for Budget Responsibility. #pmqspic.twitter.com/siJ5ZVuTpE
Starmer: "Cut the nonsense and treat the British people with a bit of respect." 8/10
After Johnson showed the wit of a toddler, Starmer showed the formidability of a schoolteacher and put him in detention.
Johnson: "Even by the standards of Captain Hindsight to obliterate the biggest pandemic of the last century [from his memory] is quite extraordinary". 1/10
Then Johnson said what he always says. Who had Captain Hindsight on their bingo card? Everyone? OK, points for all.
Starmer: "I can only hope that his police questionnaire was a bit more convincing than that." 9/10
Referencing the police collecting evidence as Partygate continues, Starmer got a laugh out of his MPs and left Johnson embarrassed. He then said by promising a tax cut in 2024, when the next general election is scheduled, the Tories were "putting the Tory re-election campaign over and above helping people pay their bills", before calling Sunak "utterly cynical".
\u201cI can only hope his Police Questionnaire is more convincing than that\u201d @Keir_Starmer responds to the Prime Minister at #PMQs
Johnson: "If we listened to Captain Hindsight... we would not have come out of lockdown." 0/10
Starmer then called for a windfall tax instead and said big company bosses were behind it. Johnson replied by - seriously - moaning about what"the 1997 Labour manifesto said" and claimed the Tories were correcting "historic mistakes"
Starmer: "They're the party of excess oil and gas profits, we're the party of working people. 7/10
Rather than remind him that 1997 was 25 years ago, Starmer clearly positioned how he sees the Labour Party and how he sees Johnson with decent rhetoric that should go down well with voters.
Starmer: "Why's he still here?" 10/10
The simplest questions are the best and Starmer showed that by hammering Johnson over the latest Partygate news. The Met is issuing 20 fines so far to people who attended events in Downing Street, showing that Johnson's past claim that all rules were followed is a load of old... (you fill in the gap).
Johnson: "We do at least expect some consistency from this human weathervane. It was only a week or so ago he was saying I shouldn't resign." 6/10
Johnson replied by calling out Starmer for previously calling for political unity due to the Ukraine crisis then mumbled about the Met continuing its work. Queen Sue Gray didn't get a mention, sadly.
Starmer repeated his view that Johnson is "taking the British public for fools".
Boris Johnson calls Keir Starmer a "human weathervane".\n\nIn the space of 24 hours the prime minister has gone from publicly mocking trans people in front of Conservative MPs, to publicly supporting them after one of those same MPs came out. #pmqs
Making the Tories seem like some off-brand version of Deliveroo, Johnson continued spouting the same old nonsense as the backbenches cheered, maybe hoping he'd take them out for dinner again.
Perhaps Johnson is a bit hungover after the Tory's big dinner last night. More so than ever he relied on his usual soundbites about "Captain Hindsight" Starmer wanting the UK to go back into lockdown and into the EU.
Forget that it is baseless nonsense for a second and consider how it loses more power every day as the political agenda moves further away from Covid and Brexit.
Then get Johnson a couple of Nurofens and a glass of water, and ask him to have a flick through the headlines to come up with some more topical barbs.
Maybe then he will stand a chance at leaving PMQs looking like the better politician.
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