Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch: Good King Boris baffles his critics with benevolence

9 Jun

Good King Boris looked out, filled with benevolence towards all men and women, ready to welcome six of his fellow monarchs to a series of Cornish banquets.

The Labour benches attempted to portray him as a stingy son of privilege. Sir Keir Starmer accused him of spending only £50 per pupil per year to repair the harm done by the pandemic, compared to a munificent £1,600 per pupil in the United States and fully £2,500 a head in the Netherlands.

Johnson, unabashed, stuck to the line that Britain has “the biggest tutoring programme anywhere in the world”.

When Sir Keir pointed out that Britain is the only G7 country to be cutting aid, Good King Boris replied that on the contrary, the present Government has continued to spend more on aid than Labour ever did, “even when they were spending money on Brazilian dancers in Hackney”.

Ian Blackford, for the SNP, wished the Scotland team well in the Euros. Good King Boris outbid him by wishing both Scotland and England well, and took a swipe at “the leftie propaganda…all they want to do is run the country down”.

Sir Keir laughed, Blackford frowned and Johnson declared in triumph that “one in three of the vaccines being distributed round the world to the poorest and the neediest come from the Oxford AstraZeneca supply”.

His account of how things are going was worthy of Dr Pangloss. Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Like Voltaire, Johnson mocked his opponents by spicing his remarks with ludicrous touches. Things are going so well, and his opponents are so derisory, he has no need to be solemn.

Lord Frost, Britain’s EU negotiator, the PM declared, is “the greatest Frost since the Great Frost of 1709, or whenever it was”.

Ian Lavery (Lab, Wansbeck) remarked that Johnson has “a wonderfully privileged educational background”, yet is spending only 20 pence a day to help other pupils catch up, but had no more success with this line than Sir Keir.

Jonathan Edwards (Independent, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) told a story of Brexit “betrayals” of Northern Ireland Unionists, fishermen and farmers, and wondered who comes next – steel workers?

“No,” Johnson replied, and accused Edwards of “completely missing the dynamism and optimism of so many people I meet in the agricultural sector who see opportunities for for Welsh lamb and Welsh beef around the world… Welsh beef and Welsh farmers can do brilliantly.”

Edwards should be backing Wales, for Johnson certainly is. And with that, the benevolent monarch left the Chamber, relishing the prospect of travelling in the footsteps of King Arthur to the West Country and feasting with the knights of the G7 at Carbis Bay.