HENRY DEEDES watches a miffed Prime Minister being grilled06/30/2021
Boris Johnson stomped on out, leaving a vapour trail of fury: HENRY DEEDES watches a miffed Prime Minister being grilled over the Matt Hancock scandal at PMQs
Had anyone been stupid enough to get in the way of Boris Johnson as he departed PMQs, they would most likely have found themselves squished.
The Prime Minister did not so much head for the exit doors as bolt right at them. His weight was forward, his shoulders hunched, each step landing on the ground with a heavy stomp.
Students of the Eton Field Game, such as Boris, know this move as the ‘bully rush’: Head down, backside out, chaaarrrge!
Had anyone been stupid enough to get in the way of Boris Johnson as he departed PMQs, they would most likely have found themselves squished
Several yards behind, a female PPS followed, arms flailing, notepad fluttering, her heels click-clacking along the floor in a frantic bid to keep up.
For Mr Johnson’s predecessors, such a hasty retreat from the Commons amphitheatre was not unusual.
Tony Blair couldn’t get out of the place quick enough.
Gordon Brown would skulk off, the weight of the world bearing down on those great granite shoulders, without so much as a nod to anyone.
David Cameron, his mind set on the large glass of wine he used to enjoy afterwards with lunch, was a notorious bolter too.
Theresa May maintained the tunnel vision of an Olympic sprinter, desperate to shut out the hissing vipers surrounding her.
But Boris isn’t normally like this. He prefers to linger, rock back on his heels and indulge in clubby small talk with his backbenchers.
‘Hey ho, chappy, what’s new? How’s that backhand coming on?’ etc. To others, he will turn and grin, arms aloft, a wrestler pronouncing himself victor. He does this even when Sir Keir Starmer has just given him an almighty spanking.
Yesterday, however, he was miffed. He left a vapour trail of fury behind him. As the chamber doors swung open, he seemed to mutter something crossly under his breath. ‘Bloody Hancock’ would be my bet.
Boris had just endured a testy jostle with Sir Keir Starmer. From my viewpoint, he had not enjoyed it one bit.
Focus of discussion was the health secretary’s steamy clinch with his semi-Italiano aide Gina Coladangelo which broke in last week’s papers.
Thank heavens visitors are still banned from the House. Innocent schoolchildren’s imaginations should not be sullied by such unsavoury talk.
Sir Keir, by the way, was in decent nick for a man facing humiliation in today’s Batley and Spen by-election. Just as a condemned man discovers a rapier wit when he walks the plank, is there not liberation in having nothing to lose?
Like many, Starmer wanted to know why it had taken so long for Hancock to pack his bags. Any fool waking to those piccies of the health secretary’s little bout of tonsil tennis could see it was an instant red-card offence. Yet he didn’t resign until the following day. Why?
Boris insisted he’d been very fast replacing Hancock, just not as fast his vaccine rollout. Ho, ho, ho. Sir Keir’s neck stiffened. ‘That was a ridiculous answer,’ he spat.
He mocked Boris for claiming he’d sacked Hancock when the minister had clearly gone of his own accord.
The Prime Minister did not so much head for the exit doors as bolt right at them. His weight was forward, his shoulders hunched, each step landing on the ground with a heavy stomp
‘In a minute, he’ll be telling us that he scored the winner last night,’ Starmer joked, referring to the England footie team’s triumph over Germany.
The Labour benches squawked liked a demented aviary. A collection of MPs sitting opposite Boris kept pecking away at him in a bid to put him off his stride.
One of them was Catherine McKinnell (Lab, Newcastle N) ‘Oo’s in charge? ‘Oo’s in charge?’ she kept yelling.
The problem for the Government with l’affaire Hancock is that it plays directly to the ‘One law for them, one law for everybody else’ narrative Starmer keeps pushing.
He raised the case of 27-year-old Ollie Bibby, who died of leukaemia with only one family member allowed by his side. Boris accused Labour of obsessing over the ‘Westminster bubble’. Uh oh.
The aviary exploded. ‘Disgrace!’ shouted someone. ‘Shame!’ yelled another.
Labour pounce upon this sort of loose talk. It happened last week when Boris accused them of ‘jabbering’ during a discussion of rape prosecutions.
Starmer demanded the PM take the ‘Westminster bubble’ remark back. Boris refused but his face was crimson with irritation. Outmanoeuvred for the second week running.
When the session ended, Hancock’s replacement Sajid Javid leaned over to say something reassuring but Boris wasn’t interested. Off he stormed.
Stomp, stomp, stomp. Bloody Hancock…
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