Keir Starmer says he can't tell if Tories were 'cheering or booing' ...
Indy

We can't imagine how nerve-wracking it must be to walk into a room knowing the majority of people in it don't want you there. The anxiety, the tension, the discomfort...

But that is exactly what happened when Boris Johnson walked into the house of commons today, because he not only came face to face with opposition MPs who have never been all that keen on him, but he was flanked with 148 of his own MPS who voted against him in a no confidence vote earlier this week.

Johnson survived as PM as 211 MPs voted for him, but with that setting the scene, we imagine he felt very uncomfortable indeed. If he did he certainly didn't show it as he and opposition leader Keir Starmer clashed on the NHS in a blistering session that made MPs cheer and jeer in equal measure.

Here's a run down of what went on:

Starmer: "I couldn't make out whether the noise was cheers or boos" 9/10

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Starmer kicked things off by making a dig at Johnson, who was booed by the public during the Platinum Jubilee and has obviously just lost the support of loads of his MPs. It was a decent zinger from the Labour leader and after giving Johnson an early soccer punch he then brought up Nadine Dorries, who this week scored a disastrous own-goal by criticising Jeremy Hunt and inadvertently appearing to claim the government wasn't adequately prepared for the pandemic.

Johnson: "We had the faster rollout in Europe" 1/10

As Covid becomes less and less of A Thing, Johnson relied on his usual line in defence and praised himself for a policy enacted 18 months ago. If he thinks he can deliver vaccines then cruise for the rest of his time in his office though, he's wrong. Time to change the record, PM.

Starmer: "The PM's big plan act is so tired that even once loyal MPs don't believe it" 6/10

Starmer then brandished Tory backbench MP Jesse Norman's letter to the PM which he wrote ahead of the no confidence vote, letting him know in no uncertain terms that he no longer supported his leader. Starmer quoted from the letter in an attempt to embarrass the PM but it didn't create much reaction.

Johnson: "They don't have a leg to stand on" 1/10

And after Starmer went in on the Tories and their record on health, Johnson threw tit and Starmer's tat and said Labour's NHS record wasn't that great either. Note to readers, Labour hasn't been in power since 2010...

Starmer: "24 hours in A&E used to be a TV programme, now it's his policy" 10/10

In what was easily the best line in the whole back and forth, Starmer accused the Tories of presiding over an NHS where waiting times are through the roof. And he's got a point given it comes as viral footage showed a nurse telling people in an A&E waiting room that they may be there for 12 hours.

Johnson: "I'm going to get on with mine, and I hope he gets on with his" 1/10

Johnson finished by telling everyone he will "get on" with his job, something he appears to do everytime he is criticised. If he's making mistakes? Just let him get on with them. If he could do something differently? Stop making a fuss, let him get on with it. Feel like scrutinising the elected prime minister of this country? For goodness sake, he won three years ago so now let us all turn a blind eye and LET HIM GET ON.

Verdict

Given Johnson lost the support of 148 of his own MPs this week leaving him looking like fly on his back flailing around to turn himself upwards again, you might think Starmer would have won this just by yawning in Johnson's general direction.

But by moving the conversation away from standards in public life to the NHS, Starmer - while raising important issues - misread where public interest lies and missed an opportunity to really give the PM a kicking.

That's not to say the conversation about how the government handles the NHS isn't one to be had - it certainly is. But highlighting Johnson's standards in public life (or lack thereof) is a weapon that is working against him. Why, when he's gasping his last breath, experiment with a new one?

Still, Starmer can afford to take it easy. Johnson's popularity has plummeted and it shows no signs of rebounding. We'd take things further and sit in the commons filing our nails while waiting for the PM's political career to decay into dust if we were him.

But here's what other people made of it:

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