By all accounts, today’s performance by Boris Johnson was his worst at Prime Minister’s Questions to date. Not only was the Prime Minister hobbled by a sore throat, but he was duffed up by the Speaker of the House, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, for asking the questions and for once looked weak compared to Sir Keir Starmer who was on better form.
The PM’s attempt to tried to turn the table on Starmer, accusing him of “Mish-conduct – a pun on Mishcon de Reya over his work as a lawyer whilst as an MP – misfired spectacularly. Hoyle was having none of it, telling Johnson to “respect this House”. “I am in charge… I don’t want to fall out about it. I’ve made it very clear – it is Prime Minister’s Questions, it’s not for the Opposition to answer your questions.”
Hoyle was unimpressed by the behaviour of MPs who were wailing across the chamber. “I’ll be quite honest, I think it’s been ill-tempered, I think it shows the public that this House has not learnt from the other week. I need this House to gain respect but it starts by individuals showing respect for each other.”
The Speaker’s repeated blows with the PM seemed to glint a fire in Starmer’s belly. He accused Johnson of being “a coward, not a leader” and doubted him as the “man to clean up Westminster” given he “he can’t even say sorry” for the Owen Paterson affair. Johnson admitted that it was a “mistake” to conflate the lobbying rule break by Paterson with overhauling the sleaze watchdog.
Johnson’s torrid day did not end there. He has a marathon session in front of the Liaison Committee, before then having to go face-to-face Tory MPs – many of them furious about the second jobs ban – at a 1922 Committee Meeting.