Given the extraordinarily low expectations, Prime Minister’s Questions went reasonably well for Boris Johnson today. That is partly because it was a pointless session: everyone is waiting for the publication of the Sue Gray report, so most likely it will be forgotten very quickly and will make no difference to the main event (whenever that comes).
Johnson decided to make a forceful argument that he and the government were focused on more important things than cakes and parties. He lectured Keir Starmer for raising the matter at all when he was busy bringing the west together to threaten Russia with the toughest package of sanctions. He talked about the government trying to help people with the issues they really cared about, including the cost of living.
Starmer had, as I understand it, come to the session intending to play things pretty straight and talk about the cost of living rather than joke about cakes. But even he couldn’t resist laughing at Johnson for digging out his very well-worn ‘Captain Hindsight’ line pretty early on in the session as he claimed that he had got all the big calls right. The Labour leader pointed out that the Prime Minister himself had conceded that — with hindsight — the party he attended shouldn’t have happened.
Johnson did produce a new insult for Starmer, which is that he is a ‘lawyer not a leader’. It’s a curious one to use when current circumstances mean the Prime Minister may be consulting quite a lot of lawyers himself given the possibility of law-breaking in his own building. It also highlighted the weakness of his overall argument: it is hard to say you are getting on with the big priorities when you are also mired in a crisis entirely of your own making.
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