Boris Johnson dominated Prime Minister’s Questions. He was not in the Chamber, but was on the mind of Ian Blackford, parliamentary leader of the Scottish Nationalists, who described him as “a man who has made a career out of lying”.
That roused the Tory benches. They roared and growled and pointed, for it is not done to accuse another MP of lying.
Perhaps wisely, the Speaker left Blackford to be dealt with by the Prime Minister. She observed that she is there to answer questions about the Government, but added, with a defiant gesture at the Opposition, that either candidate in the Conservative leadership election “would do a damn sight better job than anybody sitting on those benches”.
One must ask whether Jeremy Hunt will be able to recover from this blow. No one seeking to be leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party wishes to be hailed as the preferred candidate of the Scottish Nationalists.
But Blackford is bluffing. The Nats reckon Johnson would be a gift to them.
Stephen Pound suggested, from the Labour benches, that Theresa May was “distracted by the intoxicating emotion of imminent freedom”.
He went too far, but she did betray some faint signs of being demob happy. Her attacking shots were played with a greater degree of ease than is usual.
Jeremy Corbyn invited her to condemn Saudi Arabia for its part in the terrible war in Yemen, and to suspend arms sales. May retorted that he backs Iran, the IRA and Russia: “He never backs Britain and he should never be Prime Minister.”
One must wonder how long Corbyn will last against either Johnson or Hunt. Each week at PMQs, the Leader of the Opposition has the opportunity to put six questions to the Prime Minister.
Corbyn has never learned that if he has a good question, which the PM is incapable of answering, he should expose her evasiveness by hammering away at the same point. He invariably spares her by moving on to some other point.
So this is not just the end of term for May. If the new Tory leader, whoever it is, manages to confound predictions of immediate disaster, Labour will find that it too needs a new leader.