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PMQs: Lame duck prime minister picked apart by forensic Keir Starmer

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

As he stood up to speak at what could be his final prime minister’s questions, Boris Johnson was met with a sea of MPs waving goodbye.

Just moments earlier, his health minister, Jo Churchill, became the latest – but by no means the last – government figure to publicly share their resignation letter.

That small humiliation, in the form of a tweet sent out at 12.01pm, was just another droplet in a tsunami approaching the prime minister’s shores.

Sir Kier Starmer branded him a “pathetic spectacle” and said those resigning from his government were the “first recorded case of sinking ships fleeing the rat”.

The Labour leader has not always struck the right tone in his head-t0-heads with Mr Johnson and some may have wondered what version of Sir Keir we would get for perhaps the most important confrontation yet.

In the end, it was the forensic prosecutor who made an appearance.

Labour leader did what PM had not

He began by doing exactly what Boris Johnson had failed to do: putting the alleged victim of former Government deputy chief whip Chris Pincher at the forefront.

He read out the testimony of the man and how he said he froze in fear after being groped by the Tory MP.

“When I was prosecuting rapists, I heard that from victims all the time,” Sir Keir said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

“Victims said they froze because it’s not about sex, it’s about power, and the power the disgraced Government minister had was handed to him by that prime minister.”

Mr Johnson insisted he would not “trivialise what happened” by answering whether he, as has been reported, ever said “Pincher by name, Pincher by nature”.

Sir Keir noted there was no denial.

No apology for victim

The prime minister also refused to apologise on behalf of his government after the alleged victim was told it would not be “straightforward” to pursue Mr Pincher because the complainant is gay.

Instead, the prime minister returned to his old staple of trusted tricks.

He insisted his government has been busy working for people – and that’s what voters are really interested in.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

When then didn’t work, he reminded MPs that Sir Keir once campaigned to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister.

It’s worth noting that when Mr Corbyn attended his final PMQs as Labour leader, Mr Johnson said: “We may not agree about everything but no one can doubt his sincerity and his determination to build a better society.”

If this was his final hurrah, very few voices among the shouts of “shame” and “bye Boris” would accept he shared that same determination.

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