亨利·迪斯: Boris bites back to prove there's life in the old dog

亨利·迪斯: Boris bites back in front of his rebellious MPs during PMQs to prove there’s life in the old dog

Yell at a dog for swiping a pork chop off your dinner plate and more often than not it will curl into a tiny ball and whimper for forgiveness. A particularly cocky canine does the opposite. It will wag its tail, go ‘bow-wow-wow’ and generally behave like it couldn’t care less.

鲍里斯·约翰逊(Boris Johnson) is this latter breed. However hard you thrash the Prime Minister with a rolled-up newspaper, he will simply shake his shaggy mane gormlessly before daring you to wallop him all over again.

这是, 在许多方面, his greatest asset. 反过来, it will almost certainly prove to be his downfall.

His performance at PMQs yesterday, following a rebellion of 100 of his own MPs against his Plan B measures announced last week, should by all accounts have been a tail-between-the-legs display of contrition.

Instead he carried on as though the events of the day before had never happened, rolling out his usual array of prepared soundbites and iffy half-truths as though all was tickety-boo in Westminster.








Boris Johnson's performance at PMQs yesterday, following a rebellion of 100 of his own MPs against his Plan B measures announced last week, should by all accounts have been a tail-between-the-legs display of contrition

Boris Johnson’s performance at PMQs yesterday, following a rebellion of 100 of his own MPs against his Plan B measures announced last week, should by all accounts have been a tail-between-the-legs display of contrition

For a man staggering into the Christmas recess bloodied and bruised, rarely had he seemed so perky in recent weeks.

As for those mutinous backbenchers, paradoxically they roared their approval as he arrived. They never did this for Theresa May when the chips were down. When she entered the chamber it was as though the pub bore had just sauntered in looking for the nearest ear to chew off.

Hovering opposite was Sir Keir Starmer, predictably full of himself. He harped on about Boris lacking ‘moral authority’ and being ‘the worst possible Prime Minister at the worst possible time’.

Delighted Labour MPs whooped and cheered. All bar deputy leader Angela Rayner. She and Starmer did not so much as exchange glances all session.

How Sir Smartypants revelled in the PM’s weakened position. But how much of that was down to his leadership?

It could easily be argued Labour’s current good fortunes owe more to revelations in the Press about lockdown parties and the Prime Minister’s expensive wallpaper.








Hovering opposite was Sir Keir Starmer, predictably full of himself. He harped on about Boris lacking ‘moral authority’ and being ‘the worst possible Prime Minister at the worst possible time’

Hovering opposite was Sir Keir Starmer, predictably full of himself. He harped on about Boris lacking ‘moral authority’ and being ‘the worst possible Prime Minister at the worst possible time’

After the previous evening’s shenanigans some Westminster watchers had wondered whether Boris would make it out of the chamber without the clerks having to summon stretcher bearers yesterday. Yet he had rediscovered a bit of snap.

He dismissed partygate as ‘partisan trivia’. He brushed off Tuesday’s revolt as though it were a lovers’ tiff. He boasted of the vaccine rollout success and attacked Labour for not wanting to ease lockdown restrictions last July.

Having dug a dagger into his back only hours previously, the Tories were now crying out for more – and relishing every moment.

When Ian Blackford rose to speak, the number of groans that greeted him may have set a new record. ‘It’s not a pantomime you know,’ Blackford snarled.

‘Oh yes it is!’ the mob chorused.

Mr Blackford boasted of how he planned to increase financial support for Scottish businesses suffering from new restrictions.

Full of that can-do Scottish Nationalist bombast, he then demanded the Government help pay for it.

Boris advised Mr Blackford to acquire a bigger waistcoat ‘to contain the synthetic indignation’.

Scottish National Party Westminster leader Ian Blackford boasted of how he planned to increase financial support for Scottish businesses suffering from new restrictions

Scottish National Party Westminster leader Ian Blackford boasted of how he planned to increase financial support for Scottish businesses suffering from new restrictions








He also let slip his behind-the-scenes relations with Blackford were far more cordial than the SNP Westminster leader would have us believe. Blackford will have hated that.

As Boris exited the chamber for probably the final time this year, two possible contenders to his crown, 其中有三名英国人和一名克罗地亚人和乌克兰人, wearing an eye-catching maroon pantsuit, and Home Secretary Priti Patel, in fetching fuchsia, darted in the other direction.

Of the heir apparent Chancellor Rishi Sunak, 顺便, there was noticeably no sign.

There’s life in old dog Boris yet, but for the time being the vultures are still circling.