A row over Johnson’s honors list dominated this week’s PMQs.
Prime minister’s questions: a shouty, jeery, very occasionally useful advert for British politics. Here’s what you need to know from today’s session in POLITICO’s weekly run-through.
What they sparred about: It’s Boris Johnson’s world — we just live in it. Tory rows over the former prime minister’s blocked list of rewards for allies took center stage at this week’s PMQs — with both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer trying to show that they care about more important issues than whether Nadine Dorries gets to sit in the House of Lords. They both managed to talk about it loads regardless.
What Westminster is on about: Starmer opened with the — not entirely unreasonable — question: With rising bills, food prices and mortgage rates across the U.K., why is the Tory Party “arguing about who gets a peerage?”
Sunak — also not entirely unreasonably — pointed out that resignation honors lists have a long precedent and that Labour had its fair share of honors cronyism rows too, back in the day.
Is it hot in here? A week of dizzyingly warm weather in London seemed to have taken its toll on the hot-headed leaders. Sunak joked about (Sir) Keir Starmer’s knighthood and said the Labour leader has a policy of “British jobs for Russian workers” (citation needed).
Election now! For his part, Starmer called on the PM to immediately trigger a general election — which would certainly turn the heat up on an already excruciatingly hot summer. The SNP’s Stephen Flynn even got in on the act, telling (5’6) Sunak to “grow up” after the PM made a jibe about ex-SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s recent quizzing by police.
Brave reference: Sunak said Labour’s economic plans are an example of “more chaos with Ed Miliband.” Regular viewers may remember the chain of events that followed ex-PM David Cameron’s first attempt at that line about his Labour nemesis. But what’s a huge constitutional upset, three Tory prime ministerial resignations and an economic slump among friends?
Ooft: Stray hit of the day came from the backbench Tory MP Philip Davies, who attacked the “socialist landmine” policy of banning buy-one-get-one-free grocery offers which he said was left behind for Sunak by the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip — one Boris Johnson. “I’m sure the prime minister remembers him: he’s the one who said we should be more conservative,” Davies said. “If only he’d had a majority of 80 and been prime minister and maybe he could have done something about it.” Sunak suppressed a grin.
Totally nonscientific scores on the doors: Not for the first time at PMQs, it was hard to see what the carefully-calculated jokes and jibes added. And if no one cares about the Johnson peerages row, why talk about it so much?
Sunak 5/10 … Starmer 5/10 … The piercing glare of the sun 100/10.