At one point in today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, the Speaker called MPs to order and told them: ‘We’ve got to get through Prime Minister’s Questions.’ This was an instruction to backbenchers who were shouting at one another across the chamber. But it sounded like an ambitious goal for Boris Johnson. He barely got through the truly brutal, angry session.
Sir Keir Starmer led on the allegations of sexual assault against Chris Pincher, and on why the Prime Minister had made him deputy chief whip when he knew about Pincher’s behaviour. His questions and lines were strong, Johnson’s were exhausted and irrelevant. The Labour leader described the cabinet shoring up Johnson as being ‘the charge of the lightweight brigade’. He said the sinking ship was leaving the rat. He criticised Johnson, but he also described the entire government as ‘corrupted’. Johnson continued to talk about Brexit, about Starmer backing Jeremy Corbyn, and about the government getting on with the job.
But the exchanges between Prime Minister and leader of the opposition were not the ones that did for Johnson. It was the questions from his own backbenchers. Tim Loughton asked him what circumstances he would resign in. Gary Sambrook attracted a round of applause and nods from grave-faced Tory benches when he slammed Johnson for suggesting to colleagues in the tearoom yesterday that they should have done more to stop Pincher drinking so much. The Prime Minister responded by talking about why ‘they’, Labour, wanted him gone. But it was his own MPs calling for it.
Most Conservative MPs barely moved during this session. But they are far more likely to move against their leader now.
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