PMQs SKETCH: If this is war it’s extremely polite

We’re just waiting, aren’t we? Just starting the second trimester. The labour for Labour is months away but Harriet is very sensibly taking things easy. In the autumn, she’s hoping for the great cry, “It’s a girl!” Pessimists in the centre are expecting, “It’s a boy!” But realists anticipate a great rush of wind and the announcement, “Sorry everyone. Phantom pregnancy. Back to the mattresses and start again.”

In the interim, Harriet seems to have lost the will even to “stick it to the Tories.” Her first question asked him how he could stick it to the French. Tempting question for an English prime minister. He stuck it to the Italians instead. Her second question asked him if “he could say a bit more about strengthening security,” and he said there was “no point in pointing the finger of blame.” If this is war it’s extremely polite. It’s the other sort of civil war.

The Tory beast behind the PM was getting restless. Harriet lobbed it a little something. It was robbing from our children, she suggested, the proposal to cut back tax credits. Think of the meal Gordon Brown would have made of this, feasting and getting fat on the misery of his electorate. But it’s all different now, and Cameron told her it was all about getting the deficit down, and that her policies had plunged the whole country into poverty. The Tory beast barked with some of its heads and roared with others.

It is a glad confident morning for the Beast. Even questions on inequality give their leader no pause. Inequality has gone down, he says, daringly. And he might have added, if 15 per cent of income goes to 1 per cent, that tiny minority pays 22 per cent of income tax. His answers come back to a strategy of more jobs, higher wages, lower welfare spending and lighter taxes.

It’s an election-winning combination and Labour is fatally demoralized because they know it. No wonder they hate Tories, the electorate and themselves.

John Bercow certainly senses it. He knows better than Labour that they’re out for a decade, and he’s got to start sleazing up to his erstwhile enemies in the Conservative party. Indeed, during the UQ, he was seen chatting from the chair with Patrick McLoughlin – whom he grievously insulted some years ago. Old enemies make new best friends. Bercow must be going for something big after his exit. Running the £15bn Restoration and Renewal program. True, it’s estimated at £7bn now but when Bercow applies his management talents to the price will more than double.

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Quote of the Day

Expelled Tory MP, Richard Benyon, on the short three-day Programme Motion for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill:

“Whether you had three days, three weeks or three months debating this, you would not hear one original argument that we hadn’t otherwise heard in this process…”


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