This PMQs was an eye-popper of prodigious proportions: HENRY DEEDES watches Boris Johnson getting repeatedly slapped down in the Commons
Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s spindly legs were pogoing out of his seat, his arms pumping up and down like a frustrated dad trying to start a lawnmower.
Thanks to recent Parliamentary shenanigans we’ve seen a few eruptions from the Speaker’s chair over the past week, but this one was a whopper.
A thermonuclear-charged eye-popper of prodigious proportions.
We were midway through PMQS where, not for the first time, Boris Johnson had been causing a kerfuffle by seeing just how far he could poke the hornet’s nest.
Sir Keir Starmer had been tackling him on sleaze. Trying to anyway. Both times he’d asked a question, Boris tried to wriggle out of it by asking about Sir Keir’s additional work for swanky lawyers Mishcon de Reya.
The Speaker repeatedly ordered him to cut it out. Prime Minister’s Questions, old boy, not opposition leader’s questions etc.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s spindly legs were pogoing out of his seat, his arms pumping up and down like a frustrated dad trying to start a lawnmower, writes HENRY DEEDES
Sir Keir tried once more. He raised the Randox/Owen Paterson business. Boris grinned the way a child might when about to yank the family labrador’s tail.
He even turned toward the Speaker, daring him to stop him.
‘I am sorry but we still have not heard …’ It was then that Sir Lindsay sprang. ‘Siddddown Prime Minister!’ he roared.
‘I will not be challenged. You may be the Prime Minister of this country but in this House I’m in charge!’ Boris collapsed.
Innocent face. ‘Wa-wa-what’ve I done?’ A wise man would have pulled stumps at this point. Antagonising a Speaker is never a good look for a PM.
But this is Boris. He accused Starmer of what sounded like ‘misconduct’. By now the Speaker couldn’t believe his ears. ‘I want that withdrawn,’ he demanded.
Boris insisted he had been referring to Starmer’s ‘Mish-conduct’, hy het gesê. Ho, ho! Sir Lindsay stared back at him, ashen-faced. ‘I don’t think this has done this House any good today,’ he sighed. The PM’s supporters winced.
Poor Sir Lindsay. What an unpleasant session it was. Undoubtedly the rowdiest since the bad old days of Brexit.
As you will have guessed by now, the PM was utterly hopeless.
We were midway through PMQS where, not for the first time, Boris Johnson had been causing a kerfuffle by seeing just how far he could poke the hornet’s nest
It didn’t help that he was clearly not well. His throat sounded as though someone had poured magma down it. Behind him, large swathes of backbenchers had stayed away.
They clearly ain’t pleased with the boss. Someone from the SNP offered another explanation. ‘They’ve all got second jobs!’ he yelled. The mood was no cheerier on the front bench. Ministers stared blankly as their opponent peppered with them with taunts.
Nearly all were happier to remain hidden behind face masks. Not a happy ship. Nor did Starmer cover himself in much glory. At one point he described the PM as ‘a coward, not a leader’. Groan. Just weeks since Sir David Amess’s murder and already it seems we’re back to name calling.
Boris fared little better when he came up against the Commons Liaison Committee later.
He really didn’t look well at all. The eyes were eggy, the skin sallow. He took an early smattering of grapeshot from Chris Byrant (Lab, Rhondda) over the Paterson business.
Sir Keir Starmer had been tackling him on sleaze. Trying to anyway. Both times he’d asked a question, Boris tried to wriggle out of it by asking about Sir Keir’s additional work for swanky lawyers Mishcon de Reya
The PM admitted Paterson had ‘fallen foul of the process’.
Fallen foul? The man had literally ridden over it with caterpillar tracks.There was a typically abrasive encounter with Yvette Cooper (Lab, Pontefract) whom the PM kept referring to as ‘Yvette’ before hurriedly correcting himself to ‘Ms Cooper’.
There is something wonderfully chilling about the way Ms Cooper sizes Boris up.
Vipers probably inspect little white mice with more affection.
Even testier were his exchanges with Caroline Nokes (Con, Romsey) which came soon after.
Ms Nokes, you will know, has made claims about the PM’s father Stanley smacking her backside at Tory conference a number of years ago.
Her topic of discussion? Making public sexual harassment a crime. Boris shuffled in his seat and found some interesting points on the floor to stare at.
Other times his eyes would affix on one of the side walls.
Pretty much anywhere in fact other than straight at La Nokes. An excruciating day all round.