Until Labour gets a new leader, PMQs will be a rather predictable affair. Whatever topic Jeremy Corbyn goes on, Boris Johnson has an ace up his sleeve: Labour’s defeat in the election. In today’s session, Boris Johnson trumpeted, ‘I refer the honourable gentleman to the answer that the British people gave some moments ago’. It is very hard for Corbyn to come back from such an answer.
Perhaps the most striking thing about today’s session was how keen Boris Johnson was to go after the SNP on domestic issues. When the Tory MP for Mansfield Ben Bradley asked a question about schools in his constituency, Boris Johnson pivoted from the question to attacking the poor record of schools in Scotland under the SNP. Rather than having Ian Blackford attack him each week, Boris Johnson clearly wants to try and use the Westminster bully pulpit to attack the SNP’s poor record in office.
Boris Johnson continued his constructive approach to Labour backbenchers from last week. When Mary Glindon asked about problems caused by power lines over the Tyne, he promised to try and help sort the problem. When Diana Johnson asked him—as ‘a Brexity Hezza’—to give the same level of support to Hull docks as Heseltine gave to London’s, he gave a sympathetic answer while also emphasising the benefits of free ports.
Right at the end of the session, the new DUP Westminster leader Jeffrey Donaldson asked if the commitment to ‘unfettered access’ applied to goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland as well as vice-versa. Without hesitation, Boris Johnson replied ‘emphatically it does’. Expect the DUP to refer back to this answer repeatedly come next year when the arrangements for Northern Ireland are actually implemented.