'He must be out of his tiny mind' Johnson and Starmer exchange ...
Parliament TV

It’s time for another fiery PMQs.

Prime minister Boris Johnson was facing his first session in the commons since apologising to MPs for being fined by the police over breaking lockdown laws.

He went head to head with the leader of the opposition Keir Starmer following the Easter recess.

It comes after Johnson’s statement was heard in the Commons yesterday, while stopping short of addressing allegations he instigated a separate lockdown leaving do.

But did Johnson manage to convince members of the house he was getting on with the job in hand today, or did he leave them less than convinced?

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Here's what happened:

Johnson: ‘I think Starmer is in a Doctor Who timewarp’ – 3/10

After beginning with wishing the Queen a very happy birthday for Thursday, Johnson is asked what he thinks about Allegra Stratton’s departure for laughing about Downing Street parties.

‘Why does everybody’s actions have consequences except him?’ he’s asked by Starmer, before Johnson makes the bizarre claim that he’s trapped in a “Doctor Who timewarp” having been asked about it the day before. He fails to say why he was happy to see them go, but fails to take accountability for his actions.

Starmer: “Does the Prime minister accept that he broke the law?” – 6/10

A direct question from Starmer, who knows all he has to do is point out the facts. He also hits out at the ‘strange answers from a man claiming to have made an apology’.

While he could have been more forceful, it’s not a bad approach.

Johnson: ‘Labour are intellectually bankrupt’ – 3/10

Then, things get a little heated. What starts out with Johnson repeating his half-hearted apology and saying that he ‘accepts what the police have said’ ends up with Johnson shouting about Labour’s ‘intellectual bankruptcy’ across the house, causing the Speaker to step in and ask him to address him in the chair.

Starmer – ‘Apologise to the Archbishop’ – 6/10

The Labour leader mocks ‘the party of Peel and Churchill, reduced to shouting and screaming in defence of this law breaking’.

He then asks Johnson to apologise for slandering the Archbishop of Canterbury. It comes after the prime minister claimed at a private meeting of Tory MPs on Tuesday afternoon that the clergy had been less outspoken on the Russian invasion of Ukraine than on his plan to deport refugees to Rwanda.

Johnson: “He’s a Corybista in a smart, Islington suit” – 2/10

This is… bizarre. After rambling on about a David Blunkett-led immigration policy under New Labour for no apparent reason, Johnson hits out at Starmer personally by calling him “a Corybista in a smart, Islington suit”. Again, for no apparent reason.

Hey, at least he thinks Starmer looks smart.

Starmer – “He accused the BBC of not being critical enough of Putin” – 7/10

Starmer really gets Johnson going for the first time. The Labour leader accuses Johnson of telling his backbenchers of accusing the BBC of not being critical enough of Putin, citing the work of Clive Myrie and reporters on the ground of 'uncovering Putin’s barbarism'.

It comes after reports that the prime minister said both the broadcaster had been “less vociferous” in their condemnation of Vladimir Putin than they had about plans to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda. His comments came at a private meeting with Tories in Parliament on Tuesday night.

Johnson denies it of course and even asks Starmer to withdraw the statement, with Starmer then accusing him of making “a mealy-mouthed apology” when the cameras are rolling and ‘viciously attacking’ those who tell the truth when they’re not.

Johnson – ‘He must be out of his tiny mind’ – 5/10

Johnson hits back at Starmer and points out ‘the depths which he’s willing to sink’ – earning ironic cheers from the Labour benches. He seems genuinely angry at the line of questioning and hits back by saying: “I did not attack the BBC last night for its coverage of Ukraine… he must be out of his tiny mind.”

It came before hitting out at New Labour again when talking about failing to invest in nuclear power. He then signs off by saying Labour “flip flop around like beach flounders on the beach”, in a failed zinger.

Verdict:

Johnson faced another grilling after appearing in front of MPs yesterday, and seemed to flounder himself - and did we detect a less vociferous backing from his side of the house this time?

There was the usual flinging of mud, hoping something sticks, but criticism of the last Labour government more than a decade on, as well as Doctor Who references and strange compliments about Starmer’s suit just isn’t going to do it.

Starmer didn’t put in his strongest performance, but it feels like anyone could get up there and make Johnson squirm in the present moment.

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