IT can be futile to pick winners and losers from Prime Minister’s Questions. Ask William Hague. He invariably outwitted Tony Blair – but this did the then Tory leader absolutely no favours at the ballot box.
Yet the first PMQs of this Parliament, and a new decade, was notable for one performance – Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s handling of proceedings as Speaker. There was none of the verboseness or self-importance of his pontificating predecessor John Bercow.
Proceedings started promptly and finished on time in the finest traditions of Betty Boothroyd. And the fact that Sir Lindsay, on this historic occasion, was seen but not heard – other than when he called politicians to speak – also reflected well on the conduct of MPs.
Apart from some boorishness when Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, pressed the case, as he does at every PMQs, for a second referendum on Scottish independence, the seriousness of escalating events in the Middle East meant exchanges between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn were respectful, as they should be, and reflected the fact that the sincerely-held views of the Prime Minister and outgoing Opposition leader do differ markedly.
This business-like, even statesmanlike, approach – completed without interruption from the Speaker’s chair – created a far more conducive atmosphere for interventions from backbenchers. Long may this last at the start of a Parliament where winning back public trust will matter as much as Brexit and the other great affairs of state that will exercise the Commons.