The swans sang their songs, and the Speaker, John Bercow, allowed them 57 minutes in which to do so, which made this the longest PMQs ever.
Mr Bercow hopes to carry on as Speaker and his pitch includes being the backbenchers’ friend: the chairman who will bend the rules so that they can have their say. On this occasion, he even became the friend of the departing Sir Simon Burns, with whom he has in the past being on terms of bitter enmity, but whom he now wished “all the best for the future”.
The other leavers whom he called included Peter Lilley (who slipped in a reference to “this House I love”), Dame Angela Watkinson, Sir Gerald Howarth (“this glorious sceptred isle”), Sir Eric Pickles, Sir Alan Haselhurst, Douglas Carswell and, on the Labour benches, Tom Blenkinsop. My apologies to anyone whom I have inadvertently omitted.
Jeremy Corbyn has no intention of leaving. Labour people are saying a majority of 10,000 is necessary in order to hold one’s seat, but in 2015 he won Islington North by 21,194 votes, so the chances are he will hang on.
Judged, however, by his performances at PMQs, he does not deserve to hang on as Labour leader. He has remained to the last appallingly unprimeministerial. His tactic of asking questions supplied by ordinary people – Andy, Laura, Maureen and Sybil were today’s lucky winners – is characteristically evasive.
For what the Leader of the Opposition ought to be able to do is express the thoughts of ordinary people, but with extraordinary force and eloquence and point. This Jeremy has never managed to do. Far from being the ordinary people’s champion, he has let them down.
On one side of him, Emily Thornberry wore the smile of a mother who is desperately trying to persuade herself that Jeremy is doing fine in the school play. On the other, Tom Watson wore the glum expression of a father who knows Jeremy is hopeless.
Angus Robertson, for the Scottish Nationalists, invited Theresa May to promise “to maintain the triple lock” on pensions. She could only respond, after a moment’s hesitation and rather lamely, that pensions will continue to rise.
Tim Farron, for the Liberal Democrats, told Mrs May “her party has never been nastier”. But his charge did not stick, for she does not appear nasty.
Unless, that is, going on and on about “strong and stable leadership” constitutes being nasty. This she did with pitiless consistency, as did many of her backbenchers.
At long last, the Nunc dimittis drew to a close. The final PMQs of this Parliament was over, and even most Labour MPs will have prayed that after the general election, when this show resumes, at least one leading member of the cast will have changed, and will be capable of holding the Prime Minister to account.