The Prime Minister looked and sounded more confident than she has for a long time, her mouth twisting with scornful amusement as she contemplated the pitiful performance of the Leader of the Opposition.

He wanted to know what she meant by “ambitious managed divergence”. She declined to answer a question which was itself somewhat ambitious.

And then Jeremy Corbyn launched into a Fox hunt. But no sooner had he begun to chase Liam Fox than he felt an urge to hunt Jeremy Hunt.

A moment later, Corbyn dashed off in pursuit of Boris Johnson, accusing him of muddling up the Northern Ireland border with the Camden-Islington border.

We seem to remember Johnson actually spoke of crossing the Camden-Westminster border without being aware one was doing so, unconscious perhaps that one would be paying the congestion charge.

But let us not get hung up on detail, for Corbyn certainly did not allow himself to do so. Like one of Stephen Leacock’s characters, he rode madly off in all directions.

It is true that a skilful Leader of the Opposition could have made much of the divergences between different Cabinet ministers, while holding the Prime Minister to account.

Corbyn is not a skilful Leader of the Opposition. The longer he auditions for the prime ministership, the less capable he looks of playing the role. Labour should be at least as reluctant to fight again under him as the Tories are to fight again under her.

During his stream of consciousness, which was unrelated to anything she actually said, he mentioned that it takes eight years to train a doctor.

May retorted that this means any shortages of doctors now are presumably the responsibility of the last Labour government, which eight years ago decided how many would be trained.

How long, one wondered, does it take to train a Leader of the Opposition?

At the end of PMQs, Johnson scuttled out of the Chamber, leaving David Lidington to answer an Urgent Question about the Northern Ireland Border.

This may have been prudent, and was presumably a division of labour decided by May rather than by either of the two ministers. But like so many actions which are prudent, it felt cowardly.

23 comments for: Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch: Corbyn rides madly off in all directions

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