PMQs sketch: Boris's disappointing first time

Boris Johnson addressing the Commons at his first ever Prime Minister's Questions. Credit: BBC Parliament
Boris Johnson addressing the Commons at his first ever Prime Minister's Questions. Credit: BBC Parliament
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This week’s Prime Minister's Questions marked a few firsts.

It was Boris Johnson’s first go at the weekly exchange since entering Number 10.

It was the first time in recent memory that Theresa May seemed to be enjoying herself in the chamber as she relaxed on the backbenches with newly independent MP (!) Ken Clarke.

And it was also the first time that Jeremy Corbyn’s PMQs opponent was more rambling and incoherent than the Labour leader himself.

Onlookers could be forgiven for expecting Eton and Oxford’s finest to produce an assured performance as Johnson took centre stage in the Commons, especially as the bar has been consistently lowered by the leader of the opposition, who frequently fails to land jokes or even finish sentences.

But instead Johnson’s only successful achievement of the session was in making Corbyn look competent.

The Prime Minister, fresh from a bruising Commons defeat the previous night, blustered his way through the debate trotting out some already tired lines with an already tired demeanour.

Mr Corbyn, he said, was “dithering and delaying” over Brexit for no apparent reason, despite the reason - to avoid no deal - being very much apparent.

He then declared: “I don’t want an election,” before just a few minutes later telling the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford: “I do want an election”.

The whole sorry performance came to a head with a lacklustre joke about Corbyn being a “chlorinated chicken” for refusing to agree to the election that he doesn't even know if he wants himself.

The only reasonable remark to emerge from the exchange came at the end, when Johnson told the Commons: “What this country needs is a sensible, moderate, progressive, Conservative Government.”

But with 21 of the party’s most sensible, moderate, progressive MPs having been unceremoniously booted out by him the previous evening, it appears that he doesn't really want that either.