Today, PMQs returned after parliament took a brief recess for Easter.
In this latest edition of Punch and Judy, Boris Johnson faced questions about the Greensill lobbying scandal and the two politicians shared jokes about Line of Duty – a show we are sure they have both never seen.
But who emerged victor in this battle of barbs?
We’ve done the maths:
“Every day there is further evidence of the sleaze that is now at the heart of this Conservative government.” – Starmer, 9/10
What a zinger. Following the Greensill scandal, in which former PM David Cameron is accused of pulling strings to lobby for a finance firm, Starmer asked Johnson if the current lobbying rules in place are fit for purpose.
Johnson replied he had asked for an independent review of the arrangements to be delivered in June but said top civil servants should be able to engage in business and the private sector.
But Starmer was having none of it and accused the party of being sleazy:
.@Keir_Starmer going in hard on Tory "sleaze". Altho Labour has pushed "cronyism" for months, this feels like a not… https://t.co/hNX1Dg2xxs
“The Greensill scandal is the tip of the iceberg,” he added.
“There’s one party, Mr Speaker, that’s actually voted to repeal the 2014 Lobbying Act and that was the Labour Party. I think that’s absurd.” Johnson – 6/10
Strong rhetoric from BoJo and a fair point. Labour did pledge to repeal the act – claiming it stopped charities from being able to campaign. Starmer fought back and said the legislation hadn’t stopped the scandal from occurring which is also true... so Johnson just creeps past the midpoint.
“Perhaps in the interest in full transparency, Lord Mandelson can be encouraged to disclose his other clients, Mr Speaker.” Johnson – 7/10
Johnson was backed into a corner, he had nowhere to run, and then he pulled out this plot twist and accused Starmer of being lobbied by mysterious figures linked to Lord Mandelson. It got everything thinking until…
“I haven’t heard a defence that ridiculous since my last days in the Crown Court… it’s called the shoplifters’ defence – everyone else is nicking stuff so why can’t I. That line just isn’t going to wash with me.” Starmer – 8/10
Sassy Starmer returned with a rebuttal that was also educational. And we can’t really ask for anything more than that.
Keir Starmer accuses Boris Johnson of the “shoplifter’s defence” - “everyone else is nicking stuff so why can’t I?”… https://t.co/C6bO7WB3fZ
This was a bit embarrassing, Keir. We’ve all tried to join in on banter that we don’t really understand but – as it did here – it usually falls flat. MPs in the chamber remained silent, but he did make this Twitter user laugh, so he gets points for trying:
His interjection also triggered Johnson to get involved and proclaim:
“We are getting on with rooting bent coppers, Mr Speaker!” Johnson – 4/10
He then went on a rant about police and vaccines until the speaker had to interrupt him to make him focus.
A mixed bag for both of them, them.
Overall, it was a solid performance from Keir Starmer, according to viewers, and we agree:
That might have been Keir Starmer's best #PMQs so far. Sleaze is, obviously, a good subject for Labour, but he seem… https://t.co/yRVDh0DJUq