No cheers, jeers or ya-boos… the House paid its sombre tribute: HENRY DEEDES on a subdued PMQs as the Commons remembered two much-loved colleagues
Recent tragic events have lent the Westminster village an oddly subdued aura. Gone is the bustling, merry-go-round atmosphere.
Even the cretinous ‘Stop Brexit’ man, who pumps out anti-Tory mumbo jumbo at Parliament’s main gates each day without fail, has momentarily silenced his rusty megaphone.
A similarly austere mood pervaded yesterday’s PMQs. There were no cheers, jeers or puerile ya-boos. Instead, we had a session drained of its customary bite.
Sir Keir Starmer opted for the collegiate approach – something which undoubtedly suited him, as even the wettest of heckles tossed from the opposite bench tends to throw him.
But in the light of everything it was, of course, the right way to go. Following Sir David Amess’s brutal murder last Friday, Keir wanted to help the Government rush through its vital online harms bill.
A similarly austere mood pervaded yesterday’s PMQs. But in the light of everything it was, of course, the right way to go. Following Sir David Amess’s brutal murder last Friday, Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) wanted to help the Government rush through its vital online harms bill
Unlike his predecessor, who took a somewhat soft soap approach with terrorists, he wanted them all banged up. And, as for the Silicon Valley dweebs on whose platforms their hateful bile appears, they must be held to account.
Although of course, as ever when Sir Keir is talking tough on crime, we had to endure a heavy helping of all that ‘in my experience as a prosecutor’ faff.
The Prime Minister seemed rather put out by all this collaborative stuff. Tit-for-tat is what Boris lives for.
But he gingerly welcomed the offer of temporary comradeship all the same. The two leaders continued their gentle exchanges in peculiar surrounding silence. The chamber was full – and yet zapped of its electric fizz.
The only flicker of a spark came when Sir Keir touched on a report set up in the wake of the horrific Manchester bombing. It wasn’t clear Boris knew which report he was referring to – not unusual in these contests it must be said – and he briefly abandoned the affected cross-party rapprochement to make a jibe about Labour opposing measures to prevent the early release of prisoners.
Afterwards, we heard tributes to the late James Brokenshire (pictured) who succumbed to cancer a fortnight ago. It seems Mr Brokenshire was one of those rare politicians who was liked and admired by all
Sir Keir QC sprung to his feet. Objection, your honour! ‘Really, after the week we have just had,’ he gasped, practically clutching his breast in sham disbelief. ‘I do not want to descend to that kind of knockabout!’ Knockabout? Oh, come off it. The PM hadn’t even raised his voice.
The Tory benches, which in normal times would have erupted into a joust of disgruntled finger jabbing, simply groaned at such lawyerly theatrics.
Some real bombast seemed more likely when Ian Blackford rose to speak.
Mr Blackford usually likes to use these occasions to launch into one of his long-winded diatribes about Scottish independence. Or, more often, simply hurl guileless insults at the Government.
Yet when he opened his mouth all that emerged was a throaty croak. Rebbit. Rebbit. Blackford, who had clearly lost his voice, strained his gullet – yanking at his vocal chords. But nothing. Just an inaudible whisper. Alec Shelbrooke (Con, Elmet and Rothwell) and Simon Hoare (Con, N Dorset) squeaked with schoolboy sniggers.
Much like Sir David Amess (pictured), you could say. A tragic loss, both of them – to politics, and to all those who loved them
And, rather unexpectedly, so did Blackford. A month ago, he would have scowled petulantly but last week’s atrocity has had a humbling effect on the House.
Afterwards, we heard tributes to the late James Brokenshire (pictured, left) who succumbed to cancer a fortnight ago.
Boris was good. Starmer to his credit, very good, although it helped that the opposition leader appeared to have gotten to know Brokenshire rather better than the Prime Minister. Starmer recounted with moving warmth how Brokenshire was respected by all who met him.
Up in the public gallery, Brokenshire’s wife Cathy – sat with their three children – smiled proudly as she heard her husband described as a ‘party leader’s dream’ who was always happy to roll up his sleeves and do the grunt work.
It seems Mr Brokenshire was one of those rare politicians who was liked and admired by all. Much like Sir David Amess, you could say. A tragic loss, both of them – to politics, and to all those who loved them.
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