Boris Johnson is doing too well. The audience for PMQs in the press gallery is in decline because the expectation that he will get into any kind of difficulty is diminishing.
Jeremy Corbyn suggested the Prime Minister is a racist, who has “learned absolutely nothing from the Windrush scandal” and is more inclined to deport a black criminal than a white criminal – the latter made to sound like Johnson himself, as traduced at the dinner tables of Islington.
Johnson retorted that Corbyn “demeans himself and besmirches the reputation of the Windrush generation” by conflating its members, who worked so hard to rebuild Britain after the war, with the criminals being deported to Jamaica.
Corbyn as usual shifted his ground – he has never mastered the art of sticking to one point – and denounced “this country’s one-sided extradition treaty with the USA”.
Johnson, with the agility which is one of his distinguishing features, shifted his ground too. He agreed with Corbyn that “there are elements of that relationship that are unbalanced”.
Honesty is often the best policy: otherwise one finds oneself defending the indefensible.
The Prime Minister was as ebullient today as on Tuesday, when he delivered his statement on HS2. Martin Vickers (Con, Cleethorpes) complained at PMQs that HS2 raises “little enthusiasm” among his constituents, for it “does little to improve connectivity to Cleethorpes”, and proceeded to itemise at excessive length the rail improvements required by Cleethorpes.
Johnson sounded amused rather than wearied by this. He said “the voice of Cleethorpes has been heard”, and had made “a vivid and compelling case” – words that will have delighted Vickers, while also entertaining the House.
Next week the House will not be sitting, but the week after that we can expect to see Corbyn take on Johnson again, and once again fail to make any kind of impact.
The new Labour leader will not be announced until 4th April, soon after the start of the Easter recess, so will not be in action against Johnson at PMQs until 22nd April.
But he or she had better start thinking now how to hold this Prime Minister to account.