PMQs sketch: Boris Johnson gets amnesia as questions pile up about ‘Dave’


hen Boris Johnson starts a sentence with “the honest truth is”, it’s probably time to check FullFact’s twitter feed.

One of the best moments in a lively Prime Minister’s Questions was when Labour MP Ruth Cadbury ambushed Johnson with the simple question: when did you last meet David Cameron.

The PM froze as if he had blundered into a glass window and pondered what to say.  “The honest truth is I cannot remember when I last spoke to Dave,” he said. 

It wasn’t a great response. The use of “Dave” reminded us that Boris was part of the same chumocracy before they all fell out over Brexit. The apparent amnesia sounded a little too convenient for Labour MPs who hooted in unison.

It was a good day for London Labour backbenchers.  Vicky Foxcroft had the PM nonplussed by switching into British Sign Language to ask why there was no interpreter for deaf people at Government briefings. Startled by the sudden silence over a video link, Johnson stammered: “I will revert to her as soon as I can.”

Ms Foxcroft really needs no interpreter. Teeth bared, eyes flashing, lip curled into a sneer, nobody watching TV with the volume turned down would fail to guess she would be happier questioning the PM with a baseball bat.

Sir Keir Starmer also had a good day.  The Greensill Capital furore was the sort of open goal that invites Opposition leaders to mess up, to run up too hard to the penalty spot and trip over the ball. However, Starmer was pitch perfect, laced with hard-edged crowd pleasing humour.

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“Does the Prime Minister believe that the current lobbying rules are fit for purpose?” he started softly

Johnson conceded: “I indeed share the widespread concern about some of the stuff that we’re reading at the moment.”  What an artful phrase “some of the stuff” was, suggesting feint disgust about something the cat dragged in that nice people didn’t need to discuss in detail.  Johnson said it was a good idea for civil servants to talk with business but conceded “it’s not clear that those boundaries had been properly understood”.

Starmer stepped things up.  Every day there was “further evidence of the sleaze that’s now at the heart of this Conservative Government. Does the Prime Minister accept there’s a revolving door, indeed an open door, between his Conservative Government and paid lobbyists?”


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