Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer can be good for each other – The Yorkshire Post says

THERE was a seminal moment at Prime Minister’s Questions this week where Boris Johnson became particularly animated during his exchanges with Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, for the first time since the lockdown.

Boris Johnson beame particularly animated at Prime Minister's Questions.

Supporters said that Mr Johnson was expressing irritation at a critical line of questioning. Opponents ventured that his record on Covid-19 was not standing up to scrutiny.

But both verdicts miss a more fundamental point as the national unity which did exist over coronavirus fragments and turns into the type of hostile recrimination that came to define Brexit.

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And that is the emergence of new rules of political engagement after the Jeremy Corbyn years in which Ministers did become guilty of complacency.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister's Questions.

This cannot be said about Sir Keir’s new-look team which has shown a grasp for policy detail rarely demonstrated by the previous Shadow Cabinet.

Yet they are also challenges. They will, in time, have to move on from the politics of hindsight to the new economic reality facing the country and specify their own priorities.

In turn, Mr Johnson and his top team should be relishing the challenge rather than becoming fearful of PMQs and other Parliamentary inquisitions.

Effective oppositions have, in the past, brought out the best in governments and it can happen again if Mr Johnson is so minded and also able some humility when mistakes do occur – an inevitable consequence of dealing with a global pandemic like this.

But it would help to signal the return of a more mature political debate – one that has been sadly lacking in recent times.

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James Mitchinson