Are you a liar, Prime Minister? Ian Blackford asked during the Prime Minister’s Questions. Most of us would take a nanosecond to think about this one. Boris Johnson looked puzzled. Perhaps he was philosophically wondering if a true liar could answer anything other than “no”.
Instead, he urged that the Chairman could decide whether the words were in order. It is against the rules of the House of Commons to call a Member of Parliament a liar, a fiber, a double-sided or whatever, so the Prime Minister had good reason to hope that Blackford would give himself a middle finger from the President.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle was not playing ball. “Can I just say, unfortunately, that they are in order,” said the President. “But weren’t tasty and not what we would expect.” He then called Blackford, SNP chief at Westminster, “Ian” and invited him to ask another question.
This little barbed wire dance says a lot about this Prime Minister’s lack of appreciation in Parliament. It came shortly after a full-fledged, round-handed duel between Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer which reinforced the impression that the Prime Minister’s attitude to accountability in the House is akin to the enthusiasm of ‘Amazon for the payment of taxes.
Starmer the QC was in top form, posing some carefully worded traps in his questions. Politician Starmer was also excellent, drawing the prime minister with colorful contempt, dubbing him “Major Sleaze”.
The Labor chief began with media reports that Johnson said he would rather ‘let the bodies pile up’ than have another lockdown. “Could the Prime Minister say categorically in the House, yes or no,” he said, ” or remarks that have an effectAsked the QC.
“No,” Johnson bellowed in an emphatic response. The prime minister looked nervous to face a former DPP a year ago, but he sought to turn the situation around. “The Right Honorable Gentleman is a lawyer … if he wants to repeat such allegations, he should come to the House and say where he heard them and who exactly is supposed to have said these things.”
Johnson then made adult comments from the Prime Minister about what happened when he allegedly said the words. “These were very bitter, very difficult decisions … because nobody wants to put this country in a lockout with all the consequences that this means: for the loss of education, for the damage to people’s chances in life. , for the enormous medical backlog that this implies. “
The first round seemed to go to the Prime Minister, after this clear denial and this emotional flowering. But the QC looked smug, hinting that the accused had been mistaken in a trap. “Someone here is not telling the truth,” he said, reminding Johnson that the Ministerial Code requires the resignation of any minister who knowingly misleads Parliament. “I’ll leave it there for now,” he thought, oozing threat. “There will be more on this, trust me.”
QC moved on to a more dangerous issue. “Who initially – and, Mr Prime Minister, “initially” is the key word here – who initially paid for the redecoration of his Downing Street apartment.
Johnson responded with a volley of political bullets, none of them in silver, ranging from Starmer backing the European Medical Agency to mistakenly claiming Sir James Dyson was a personal friend of the Prime Minister, to the advice of the work charging more tourist tax. Mixed in there, the PM slipped: “As for the last things he raised, he should know that I have personally paid for the renovation of Downing Street.” This little word “initially” was simply ignored by the Prime Minister. No one missed that the time they used did not preclude a late repayment or loan from a Tory mogul.
Starmer looked exasperated when Johnson responded with bluster. But today, he pocketed the accused’s non-response and played with him. “Normally, when people don’t want to incriminate themselves, they don’t comment,” he urged. Patron, he reduced it to a “multiple choice”, claiming that the initial bill must have been paid by the Prime Minister, the Conservative Party, the taxpayer or a wealthy donor. “There are only four options, it should be easier than finding the chatty rat.”
“I gave him the answer”, the Prime Minister lied, before sending again clouds of bluster.
Politician Starmer stepped in to slap the prisoner with scathing humor. The Prime Minister has spent the pandemic ‘eating away at meetings to pick wallpaper costing £ 840 a roll’. QC asked if it was true that businessman Lord Brownlow had sent £ 58,000 for the project.
Johnson incorrectly said he “answered this question several times”, which of course he did not. “I have fulfilled the conditions which I have been advised to fully fulfill,” the prime minister added, a devious claim that raised a potential defense that he might have been misguided.
Starmer moaned. “Answer the question! This is what the public is yelling at their televisions at every PMQ.”
Johnson countered that what “strained public gullibility” was an Opposition leader focused on gossip rather than the pandemic, vaccines, crime, etc. “It goes on and on on the wallpaper when, like I’ve told it dozens of times, I’ve paid it!”
The Labor leader ended with a refined speech on questionable contracts and “a government mired in cronyism and shady scandal”.
Johnson ended with a verbal outpouring, delivered with a voice that rose across and a face that turned redder. His speech lasted 373 words – I counted them – and went from Dyson to Brexit to vaccines and how he focused on ‘the people’s priorities’ while Starmer played ‘political games’.
Her childbirth was somewhere between Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men and Al Pacino in the final scene of Scarface. Some observers thought Johnson looked and sounded hysterical, and speculated the pressure was finally reaching him.
For those jaded eyes, it was a calculated performance designed to project passion and turn away from those guilty escapes and non-responses. Johnson survived all these years, not because of his talent for avoiding crises, but for his genius at getting out of it.
What we saw today is a prime minister squirming with all his might to get rid of his own efforts