Who won today's PMQs? Leaders clash on cost of living as Rees-Mogg is called a 'prefect'

220518 - Boris Johnson-keir Starmer- Full Exchange On Cost Of Living Crisis
Parliament TV

Another week brings another PMQs and another spat and this week's main talking point was the cost of living crisis.

We are used to thinking politicians are full of hot air but this week this was rather literal as Keir Starmer challenged Boris Johnson on his decision not to implement a windfall tax to raise money for those most in need.

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Who made some good points and who?

We've rated the bickering pair:

Johnson: "He struggled to define what a woman was... heaven help us." 0/10

After Starmer accused Johnson of being unclear about whether he supports a windfall tax on big businesses or not. we were treated to some very weird tit for tat behaviour from the prime minister who referenced unclear interviews. It got him off to a very bad start indeed and no-one wants ridiculous culture wars being reignited in the commons.

Johnson: "They love putting up taxes." 1/10

The toddler in charge of our country pointed his finger at the opposition - who are by definition not in power - and sneered at tax rises which was more than ironic given the government's national insurance policy...

Starmer: "When will he stop the hokey-kokey and just support Labour's plan?" 9/10

We will forgive Starmer for making us picture Johnson dancing for belittling him and making it clear he believes his opposition party's motion will be adopted.

He later said Johnson's U-turn was "inevitable" and accused him of having his "head in the sand during an economic crisis".

If Starmer manages to implement a policy he believes will help working people and embarrasses Johnson in the process by forcing him to capitulate to their demands, we imagine he will be a very happy chap indeed.

Johnson: "Short term cost from weaning ourselves of Putin's hydrocarbons" 5/10

The prime minister blamed the war in Ukraine and the Covid pandemic for the state of the global economy and minimised the government's role.

"We will look at all the measures that we need to take to get people through," he added.

Starmer: "When he's not sticking notes on people's desks like some overgrown prefect" 9/10

Starmer pointed to Jacob Rees-Mogg as one of the people against the windfall tax and joked about reports that he harasses staff choosing to work from home by leaving weird notes on their desk. It got a well-deserved laugh out of MPs.

Starmer: "He's on the side of excess profits... we are on the side of the working people" 5/10

He's said it before and it got a decent reaction so he said it again, depleting it of its power.

Starmer: "Do it for Felix, who simply can't afford to wait" 10/10

But then he told the story of a man who he had met struggling to deal with rising household bills while dealing with a rare kidney condition that requires expensive dialysis from home. It left the usually raucous house quiet and the prime minister asked Starmer to send him details of the case.

Johnson: "Who was the prime minister who completed [Crossrail]?" 0/10

Struggling to win on the cost of living crisis, like a derailed train the prime minister veered off course and started blathering on about how great London's new Crossrail train is. Thanks for the trains, Boris, but I think we were talking about something else...?


It was a repetitive back and forth this week with both leaders trotting out similar lines they have used before to talk about the cost of living crisis.

Johnson used garbled statistics about employment and tax as his weapons of choice while Starmer sharpened his lyrical language and threw case studies from people he has met on the campaign trail, humanising the debate.

Both methods of debate are effective but when we are subjected to similar conversations week after week, like clubgoers doomed to hear a hundred remixes of whatever is in the charts? Not so much.

Hopefully they both refresh their arsenal next week.

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