PMQs started with a bump. The Speaker called Dame Angela Eagle whose tone was acidic but quietly conversational. ‘This week’s events demonstrated just how loathed this Prime Minister is,’ said the dame. ‘And that’s only in his own party.’ A decent gag that won big laughs – and not just from the opposition. But Boris didn’t crumple. Anyone who hoped to see him slouching like a wounded elephant to the bone-yard was disappointed. His brush with death has sharpened his relish for the fight.
‘I thank her very much for her question. And in a long political career – so far! – I have picked up political opponents all over. That’s because this government has done some very big and very remarkable things.’ Translation: ‘I’m still here. In fact, I’ve barely started.’
There were cries of ‘shsh!’ from Labour as the Speaker called Andrew Mitchell, a top Tory disloyalist. Mitchell has the perpetually wounded air of a clever pupil who failed to make Head Boy even though his parents bought the school a new boat-house. But he disappointed Labour by asking about the Commonwealth summit in Rwanda. He revealed that Britain is home to numerous alleged war criminals who have skulked in our midst for an enjoyable 16 years. And he wondered if the Prime Minister’s plane might find space for those accused of atrocities over there? No, apparently. Not even in economy. But Boris promised to mention them at some banquet or other.
Sir Keir avoided the no-confidence vote and accused Boris of failing the NHS. Not a great day for the Labour leader. He rambled and smirked and preened too much. All fake joviality and premature triumphalism. ‘Oh dear, Prime Minister,’ he scolded. ‘Dear, dear, dear.’
He gets the finger-wagging Covid-marshal persona brilliantly but who wants a robotic crosspatch like him as PM? His team of hearse-chasers had been out in force looking for NHS blunders to blame on Boris. It seems poor taste to toss a medical tragedy across the floor and ask the PM to explain why this operation was cancelled or that patient went private. The worst case was a son whose mother died while waiting for a non-existent ambulance. What’s astonishing is that the poor man phoned six times in the hope that a paramedic might turn up. Most people would just get an Uber because they regard the ambulance service as a mirage, a bit like the Second Coming. It’s a consoling fantasy for the bemused and ignorant.
Ian Blackford of the SNP made a good joke for once. He said that the Tories always shout him down when he calls for Boris’s resignation. ‘It turns out that 41 per cent of them have been cheering me on.’
Boris thanked him for his ‘characteristically warm words’ and praised Blackford for unwittingly boosting the union.‘He is the Araldite that’s keeping our kingdom together.’ And he turned Blackford’s calls for ‘independence’ on their head. ‘Our country is independent!’ bellowed Boris. ‘And the only way that independence would ever be reversed would be through the disaster of a Labour-SNP coalition.’
Pundits differ in their predictions but it’s clear what Boris thinks. Next year’s general election campaign has begun. He wants to scare middle England with the prospect of a wreckers’ pact between rejoiner Starmer and indyfan Sturgeon who will undo Brexit and force Britain back into the globalist bootcamp of Brussels. Not a bad strategy.
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