Boris produces bubbles of nonsense when quizzed about Carrie | John Crace

BOris Johnson could count himself lucky. He wasn’t up against the RMT union leader. Mick Lynch has already seen off Kay Burley, Piers Morgan, Labour’s Jenny Chapman and several half-witted Tory MPs. Chris Philp and Jonathan Gullis were chewed up and spat out. So it would be a racing certainty that the Convict would come off worse in any one-to-one with Lynch. One very good reason why the Tories have made no effort to engage with the RMT.

But the Convict did have to face a revitalized Keir Starmer. In recent weeks, the Labor leader has seemed underpowered. As if his mind was elsewhere. But at Wednesday’s prime minister’s questions he was fully on it. Not all the gags landed, but then they didn’t need to. Johnson looked hopelessly out of his depth from the start. Powerless to defend his record. Not even the Tories now believe the Tory line that Labor is to blame for the rail strikes. More to the point, the public certainly seems to know where the fault lies.

First though, was a question from Labour’s Chris Elmore. Could Johnson confirm or deny whether he has ever tried to blag a job in government or the royal household for his girlfriend – now wife – Carrie Johnson? Bubbles of nonsense dribbled from the Convict’s mouth. What he had done is find lots of other people a job. Which must be why so many people are out of work. But no outright denial. Everyone was just amazed that he hadn’t lied.

So we can take that as a yes, then. After all, Johnson’s only interest in institutions and their safeguards is in how they can be twisted and corrupted to his ends. What is the point of going to all that trouble to become foreign secretary or prime minister if you’re not going to try to use your influence to find your lover a job?

Hell, he’d bought off his own brother with a peerage. He’d given Evgeny Lebedev a peerage. Even Evgeny’s friends have yet to work out if he exists in three dimensions. Mostly he looks like a bearded cardboard cutout. A billionaire without quality. And it’s rumored he plans to elevate Paul Dacre to the Lords. So finding his latest lover a cushy number was a complete no-brainer. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be paid £100k for doing next to nothing in the Foreign Office if the only other job on offer was as a £10k cleaner in a care home?

PMQs: Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer clash over rail strikes – video

With the Convict visibly rattled, Starmer pounced. The Tory candidate in the Wakefield byelection had been put to a vote of no confidence by his own party. Did that ring any bells? Maybe Johnson should consider himself as something of a trendsetter. Buy one, get one free. Maybe there was a run on useless people standing for office in the Conservatives. And was there a reason Boris hadn’t actually bothered to visit Wakefield? Had he decided that two crap people nobody wants, standing next to each other, wasn’t the best of looks?

“Pifflepafflewifflewaffle.” Johnson splurged, his face turning crimson with the exertion of trying to speak in intelligible sentences. “But what about the rail strikes?” Ah, glad you’ve mentioned them, said Starmer. He might have gone media-shy the previous day but he was now all ready for a conversation.

What on earth had the Convict and Grant Shapps been doing with themselves for the past few months? Had the transport secretary got stuck on holiday in Málaga again? Only two years ago he had had to cancel his hols before they had started as he hadn’t realized the government’s own health regulations had changed. How stupid do you need to be to become a cabinet minister these days?

Still Johnson and Shapps had both turned up at a Tory fundraiser at the V&A this week, where Johnson had found some sucker willing to pay £120k for dinner with him, Theresa May and David Cameron. Most sane rich people would pay more than that to get out of a dinner with that cast list. At least then you could escape without Boris trying to shag you. Presumably there were no takers for a day of Create Your Own Ponzi Scheme with Michael Green.

There was a lot of pointing from the Tory benches. Until they gradually worked out they were indeed the government – ​​hard to believe sometimes, I know – and that they were in large part responsible for the chaos. At which they fell silent. Johnson burbled on, but only to make a bad situation worse. He claimed to love the railways and be building the Northern Powerhouse Rail. Only no one in the north believes that’s ever going to happen. Still, nice to know the Convict had rediscovered his talent for lying. It’s the one thing at which he excels.

Johnson went on to deny all knowledge of the bankers’ bonuses to which he had given the green light only days previously, before qualifying this. It was right that bankers had lots of money because then they could spend it at the little people’s shops. Starmer had the last word, for once. Just do your bloody job. It was amazing that the strike had nothing to do with the government when Johnson had just boasted about how much he had done for the railways. He had a point.

The rest of PMQs passed in a vaguely pointless haze. Labor were just banking the win while the Tories were pinching themselves. Had their leader really been that useless? The session ended with satire eating itself. “There is no room for bullying in our society,” the Convict said. This from a man who had refused to sack Priti Patel after she had been found guilty of bullying her staff. And who should be sitting next to him? Priti Vacant herself. Wearing a blue anti-bullying ribbon. She can’t resist trolling her victims.

We then had two statements designed to cheer up the more rabid Tory backbenchers. Dominic Raab went first, insisting that he really hated foreigners and that though his new bill of rights would still acknowledge the European convention on human rights, it would only acknowledge the bits we liked. Don’t worry, we would still be able to deport refugees. Ah, said a few discontented. But would we be able to get rid of enough refugees? Raab merely shrugged.

Then came the apotheosis of decay. Step forward, Jacob Rees-Mogg. There was a time when the skeleton in the dusty, double-breasted suit fancied his chances. Thought he was either king or king-maker. Now he’s washed up. On the way down. So crap, that he’s no use even to Boris.

In his role as Brexit opportunities minister, the best he could come up with was for ordinary punters to log on to his website to suggest EU laws they didn’t want any more. Yes, we’ve taken a 4% hit to GDP just to make more powerful vacuum cleaners. wow. That makes it all worthwhile.

Even Conservative MPs could see this was hopeless and almost no one spoke. The statement was over in a blink of an eye. This was government by futile gesture. Out of ideas. Come in the Convict. Your time is up.

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