Starmers brands Johnson as a ‘shameful spectacle of a PM subject to ...
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It’s only Wednesday, and it’s already proved to be an explosive week in British politics.

Today Boris Johnson faced Labour leader Keir Starmer in the House of Commons for one of the most riveting PMQ sessions yet this year.

The fallout of Partygate continues to follow the prime minister after another alleged party was revealed earlier this week.

ITV reported that on 19 June 2020, up to 30 people turned up to a surprise birthday bash for Johnson, despite indoor mixing being banned under the restrictions at the time.

There is a separate allegation that on the same evening of 19th June, family friends were hosted upstairs in the prime minister’s apartment. Downing Street has denied this.

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As the scandal rages on, we’re all waiting with bated breath for Sue Gray’s report, which is tipped to be released either this afternoon or tomorrow.

The Metropolitan Police (finally) announced that they will also investigate the party allegations.

We’re also wondering how many letters of no confidence Sir Graham Brady has received so far as the future of Johnson’s premiership is put under the microscope.

To add to the partygate woes, the government also faces accusations of Islamophobia and is trying to deal with a cost of living crisis.

So who came out on top?

Starmer: “The ministerial code says that ministers who knowingly mislead parliament will be expected to offer their resignation. Does the prime minister believe that applies to him?” 10/10

Right off the bat, Starmer was straight in there with the direct question that’s been on everybody’s lips over the last two months.

Johnson said “of course”, before he predictably said he can’t comment (due to, you guessed it, Sue Gray’s investigation). He then continued to go on about how he’s focused on the fast recovery of the economy, and the booster rollout.

Johnson said tomorrow they would announce a plan to get half a million people off welfare.

Shoddy clapback from Johnson, Starmer wins this exchange.

Starmer: “Looks quizzical, he said it…” 8/10

Straight back in, Starmer jabbed back - and he had receipts.

He said that on 1 December Johnson claimed “all guidance was followed completely in Number 10”, and a week later on 8 December basically parroted the same thing.

As Starmer confronted Johnson on his previous words in parliament, Johnson looked confused.

That’s when Starmer hit him with the “looks quizzical, he said it”.

He concluded this question with: “Since he acknowledged the ministerial code applies to him, will he now resign?”

Oof.

Johnson looking quizzical is something we’re certainly used to seeing. Confused over his own Covid rules to the point that he's apparently been breaching them, this pithy remark gets Starmer full marks.

Johnson: “[Starmer] would have taken us back into lockdown at Christmas.” 0/10

Johnson started his answer with a firm “no” to the question over whether or not he’d quit, before going on to accuse Starmer of being “relentlessly opportunistic” when it comes to Covid measures, claiming Starmer would have kept the country on lockdown during the summer and said “he would have taken us back into lockdown at Christmas”.

Er...

The Christmas lockdown Labour apparently called for? Yeah, that didn't exactly happen...

Johnson went on to call Starmer his favourite nickname “Captain Hindsight” and claimed his government has got “all the big calls right”.

Starmer: “We’ve discovered the real Captain Hindsight.” 8/10

Starmer made the comment in an apparent roast making fun of Johnson for thinking he was at a “work event” when it was, apparently, a party.

Given how much Johnson has thrown the “Captain Hindsight” chestnut towards Starmer, we’re glad he got his own back.

There was a bit of commotion in the Commons, with Starmer saying: “They [Tories] are going to have to go out and defend some of this nonsense”.

Johnson: It's almost as if he's ignorant of the fact that we have a crisis on the borders of Ukraine." 4/10

True, yes.

But Johnson was also blatantly trying to avoid Starmer’s points…

Johnson said they’re hoping to deter Putin with severe sanctions.

He went on to say Starmer “needs to raise his game”.

Starmer: “This is the prime minister who went into hiding for five days because of these allegations.” 7/10

Starmer stood looking at the Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle momentarily, before Hoyle scolded those who were getting rowdy on the benches.

The Labour leader went on to ask if he will publish the full Sue Gray report. Again, predictably, Johnson changed the subject by speaking about the cost of living crisis and cutting tax for people on universal credit.

Starmer laughed at Johnson’s “cutting the tax” comment and went on to say public trust has been damaged.

He also cited Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comment calling the Scottish Conservative leader a “lightweight” and said it was an example of English Conservatives treating Scotland with “utter disdain”.

Johnson: “Vote Labour, wait longer.” 5/10

Catchy jab from Johnson as he accused Labour of neglecting the NHS and social care…

Starmer: “Nothing but contempt for the decency, honesty and respect that define this country”. 10/10

He said whatever is said in his statement later today or tomorrow - following the publication of Sue Gray’s report - won’t change anything.

“Isn’t this a prime minister and a government who have shown nothing but contempt for the decency, honesty, and respect that define this country?” he asked.

Oh my.

Johnson: “Many people may want me out of the way.” 10/10

Uh oh. Is he finally gaining some self-awareness?

He acknowledged that there are a few reasons people might be happy to see the back of him, the reason Starmer wants him out of the way is apparently because they’re trusted to deliver.

Deliver what? Brexit (hmm), vaccines (fair), and apparently a plan to “level up”.

Right.

He finished up with: “The problem with the Labour party today is he’s a lawyer, not a leader”.



Verdict

Regardless of which side you’re backing no one can deny the atmosphere in the House of Commons seems fraught with tension.

It was a particularly rowdy and excitable session this afternoon, with the speaker several times having to scold MPs in a manner not unlike an exhausted school teacher.

Ultimately, Johnson continued hiding behind his shield of “I can’t talk about that until the Sue Gray report comes out”, and waxing lyrical about the government’s wins, such as the vaccine rollout.

If he and other members of the government need a senior civil servant to tell them whether or not they were at parties, it makes us question their leadership.

Guardian columnist Marina Hyde put it best when, a few weeks ago, she wrote: “Did you or didn’t you go to a big party in your garden, you smirking fibreglass toby jug? Or do you also have to wait for some veteran civil servant to tell you whether or not you put your pants on the right way round this morning? Honestly mate, just MAN UP.”

With the Gray report hopefully coming out very soon, we can’t wait for next week when Johnson can no longer dodge questions by citing the investigation.

We’ll keep you posted….

But either way, today, Starmer wins.

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