Robert McNeil: Brassy Angie boots Boris right where it hurts – in the House

RELAX, readers. Your masters at Westminster are back, and how delighted they were to be so, giving a great lusty cheer at the start of Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.

With Labour leader Keir Starmer hors de Covid yet again, we were treated to the spectacle of his deputy, Angela Rayner, the bold and brassy Lancashire lass, fixing Prime Minister Boris Johnson directly with a gimlet eye and a wicked smirk as she hauled him over the coals about “povert-eh” and whatnot.

Kicking hard and low with her oratorical Doc Martens, the People’s Angela accused the aforementioned Boris of “governing shambolically” – well, it’s arguable, I suppose – and said Labour was “ready to take over”. Cue cheers and guffaws.

The Partygoers’ Boris replied: “It’s great to be here with the right honourable lady, the shadow secretary of state for the future of work. We know the future job she has in mind” – Labour leader, ken? – “and I wish her well.”

Angela: “I’ve heard on the grapevine that there may be a vacancy for Prime Minister soon. So maybe I should have aspirations.”

“Ooh!” chorused Boris and his backbenchers (good name for the worst death metal band ever).

Ms Rayner said Labour was “an aspirational party” – still stuck in the 1990s if yon yucky adjective is anything to go by – and said working families were picking up the tab for the PM’s incompetence on matters such as energy bills.

Said Boris: “She talks about energy. I think the House will agree she has got a lot more energy than the current leader of the opposition.” Divide and rule, d’you see? The PM was not wasting time when he read in his Asterix comics about Julius Caesar dividing the Gauls.

But, if we might recklessly widen our tribal reach, he didn’t reckon on Labour’s Boudicca wheeling her chariot around and driving straight towards his nadgers (more on that general topic below) and bunging this cruelly sharpened spear at his heid: “He laughs it off. He looks for someone else to blame. Can I suggest to the Prime Minister: it’s not about brushing your hair. It’s about brushing up your act.”

And so we come to act two, in which the SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, came bounding on stage with all the litheness of the rear end of a peculiarly plump pantomime horse with arthritic knees and a bothersome old war wound in its left buttock. “A guid new year,” he wished the assembled mob. Aye, very guid. Get on with it.

Mr Blackford cited new research purporting to show that British families would be £1,200 worse off from April.

“Now,” quoth he, “for members of the Tory Government, £1,200 might not seem very much.” (Splutters of insincere sounding outrage.) “For the Foreign Secretary it’s just another taxpayer-funded lunch in Mayfair. For the Prime Minister, it’s just a roll of fancy wallpaper!”

Boris shook his big Dulux dog head and riposted: “I find that criticism hard to take from the humble crofter” – read former investment banker – “with whom I stress I normally have very, very good relations off the pitch.”

Oh, he must know that gets right up Ian’s nose. The latter – the man not the nose – complained this was “the same nonsense from the Prime Minister”, adding: “We have had the year of Tory sleaze. Now we have got the year of Tory squeeze” – that’s enough poetry, puh-leaze – “on family budgets.”

Shortly after this, we have to record that Mr Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, went a bit nuts, so to say, when he referred to Lib Dem leader Ed Davey as Ed Balls, the former Labour minister and accomplished dancer.

Shamelessly, after hearing Sir Ed on heating bills, Boris picked up these balls and ran with them, averring: “I think balls was the word … Your word, Mr Speaker, not mine.”

Before proceedings concluded, Ms Rayner was back on the balls of her feet, raising a point of order in which she claimed the PM had misled the house when he denied saying fears about inflation were unfounded.

Though Mr Speaker ruled the point of order incompetent, Boris was already getting to his feet to address the charge, prompting Sir Lindsay to order: “Stay, Prime Minister! Prime Minister, sit!”

Honestly: treating the Leader of All Britain as if he were a mangy mutt. With Boris still barking inanely, someone threw a stick to distract him, but he just sat there moodily licking his own private parts, while his backbenchers howled like demented pit bulls. And there we leave proceedings at the Hound of Commons.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.

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