In yesterday’s debate, in which Boris Johnson lost the vote on the SO24 motion despite his threats to rebel Conservative MPs that they would not be the party’s candidates at the next election if they voted in favor of it, Jeremy Corbyn gave a powerful performance that exposed the reckless behavior of the government. As Corbyn said, “Boris Johnson’s government has no mandate, no morals and, as of today, no majority.”
Here are two short excerpts.
Ouch. Jeremy Corbyn is currently tearing chunks out of Boris Johnson describing him as a man with no moral, no mandate & no majority. pic.twitter.com/cqF0oFNZ6X
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) September 3, 2019
Boris Johnson's government has no mandate, no morals and, as of today, no majority. pic.twitter.com/kjbh3b1T8b
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) September 3, 2019
As this analyst said, Johnson may have set a record for dodging questions during what is know as a PMQ (Prime Minister’s Questions where people ask the prime minister questions that s/he is expected to answer), resorting instead to trying out jibes and slogans for what is likely to be an election in the near future.
PMQs has never been one of the enlightened features of our political debate. It is a shouting match all too frequently dominated by slogans, displays of machismo and cheap jokes. But even prime ministers who have been most comfortable in such a crude and brutal arena, such as David Cameron, have also acknowledged that they have been under some obligation to answer questions and address matters of policy and detail, and that while insults can get you through some of the time, they won’t work on their own.
Today it felt as if PMQs has become even more diminished, because in his first appearance in this arena Johnson seemed to show no interest whatsoever in addressing the issue at hand. He has probably set a new record for dodging questions – he did not even half-answer them, as Theresa May frequently did – and instead he seemed intent on using the entire session to road-test some election slogans, principally his claim that Corbyn is championing a “surrender bill”, and that he is scared of a general election.
Parliament is at the moment debating a bill to forbid a no-deal Brexit. The second reading of the bill passed by a margin of 329-300 and that seems likely to be close to the third and final reading to come later today.
How Johnson responds if it finally passes, as seems likely, is anybody’s guess.