Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have just clashed spectacularly in the House of Commons. Boris Johnson repeatedly goaded Jeremy Corbyn over his refusal to go for an election now.
This was not a Prime Minister acting like one who had been chastened by the Supreme Court’s decision, but one determined to set himself up as the man determined to deliver Brexit against a parliament that was trying to stop him. One of the most striking features of his speech was how frequently he declared that the public could tell what was really going on, that MPs were trying to block Brexit.
In response, Jeremy Corbyn was not at his best. He failed to forensically examine the government’s position. Interestingly, he did ask questions about whether Boris Johnson had fully disclosed his friendship with the American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri when he was Mayor of London; suggesting that Labour think there are legs to this story and intend to keep pressing it. Corbyn finished by saying that he’d agree to an election if Boris Johnson agreed to an extension.
Boris Johnson, who is not a natural House of Commons performer, then came back at Corbyn, attacking him over his links to Iran and mocking him over claims that he wants an election but his shadow Cabinet won’t let him go for it.
At the end of his statement, the Tory benches started to clap. This is something that they almost never do. It was designed not only to show their support for their leader but to goad John Bercow and the opposition benches. Partisan feeling is running higher in the Commons than I’ve ever known it. These next few weeks in Westminster are going to be some of the most bad tempered, as well as momentous, in recent times.