Well, that took long enough. After weeks of gingerly circling his opponent, Jeremy Corbyn finally threw a few punches at PMQs yesterday.
None particularly measured, mind you.
In pugilist terms, it was more a series of hit-and-hope haymakers, like watching the much-mocked class wimp finally come out swinging. But at least it gave supporters something to cheer.
The Leader of the Opposition kicked off by attacking this week’s deportation of foreign nationals to Jamaica, citing the case of a black boy deported for a drugs charge.
The Government benches exploded. The Prime Minister’s mouth drooped, his expression half-pained, half-appalled
‘If there was a young white boy with blond hair who dabbled in class A drugs and conspired with a friend to beat up a journalist, would the Prime Minister deport him?’ Corbyn pondered as he referenced the PM’s insalubrious past. ‘Or is it one rule for young black boys born in the Caribbean and another for white boys born in the US?’
The Government benches exploded. The Prime Minister’s mouth drooped, his expression half-pained, half-appalled.
A low blow, Mr Speaker!
‘The Right Honourable Gentleman demeans himself,’ the PM muttered while adjusting his groin protector.
Mr Corbyn whirled his arms, gearing himself for another swing. He moved on to the blocked extradition of Anne Sacoolas, the American intelligence officer’s wife accused of killing motorcyclist Harry Dunn.
The Leader of the Opposition kicked off by attacking this week’s deportation of foreign nationals to Jamaica, citing the case of a black boy deported for a drugs charge
He accused the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, of misleading the Dunns by failing to reveal Mrs Sacoolas was a CIA spook.
‘Will the Prime Minister commit to his removal from office tomorrow in his reshuffle?’ he asked, to more jeers. With Mr Raab absent, Jacob Rees-Mogg chose to be outraged on his behalf.
‘Ord-er! Or-der!’ the Leader of the House wailed as he appealed to the chair to intervene, his expression like a drowning frogman gulping for oxygen over the rising swell. Speaker Hoyle was unmoved.
Warming to his theme, Corbyn pointed out that the Sacoolas affair highlighted the lop-sided nature of Britain’s extradition treaty with the US. The Prime Minister was forced to agree – the arrangement ‘needed looking at’.
Corbyn gave himself a congratulatory rake of the whiskers, looking like a man who’d just checkmated a grandmaster in three moves.
He accused the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, of misleading the Dunns by failing to reveal Mrs Sacoolas was a CIA spook
The Twitterati declared Mr Corbyn the victor of this tussle. I wouldn’t quite put it that way, more a case of a Prime Minister now barely bothering to even show up against a lame duck leader.
But these are thankless times for Jezza and for his own sense of dignity at least he showed some bite.
Certainly there was none yesterday from SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who focused his queries on displaced children in Syria.
Blackford seems off his oats at the moment. That mischievous grin has lately turned into a heavy scowl.
Perhaps it’s a side-effect of relocating to Dennis Skinner’s old position on the green leather since the election. Or possibly it’s the PM who really does get under the Scot Nats’ fingernails.
They used to dislike Theresa May, but they simply loathe Boris.
There came a delightful moment when Kirsten Oswald (SNP, East Renfrewshire) pointed out that the House of Lords’ recent decision to raise members’ daily allowance from £313 to £323 now takes it beyond the monthly allowance for someone on universal credit.
The PM concurred, responding: ‘I hate agreeing with these people but I do find it odd that the Lords have chosen to do that’. Cue a Scots Nats eruption. ‘These people?!’ they chorused, bridling at the PM’s condescension.
There came a delightful moment when Kirsten Oswald (SNP, East Renfrewshire) pointed out that the House of Lords’ recent decision to raise members’ daily allowance from £313 to £323 now takes it beyond the monthly allowance for someone on universal credit
Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss’s eyes almost torpedoed out of their sockets.
Then Richard Thomson (SNP, Gordon) dragged up the Intelligence and Security Committee’s yet-to-be published report into alleged Russian interference in UK politics.
Groans. Boris assured that all those who wish to see him damaged will be disappointed by the report’s findings.
On current showing, they are certainly going to need far stronger ammo than conspiracy theories.
A decent Leader of the Opposition would be a good start…