PMQs Sketch: The Grey-Some Twosome’s Budget Panto

Theresa May and Philip Hammond have the least sexy Prime Minister-Chancellor relationship in British political history. Thatcher-Lawson, Major-Lamont, Blair-Brown: these titanic battles of personality and politics had real zing. There was a dangerous chemistry about each, and like two reactive elements thrust together, the mixtures would eventually explode. Our grey-some twosome are too dull even to destroy one another…

How utterly similar they looked: like two wan Waitrose shoppers. You can imagine them now, plodding down the high street in any nameless provincial town. We are told there is no love lost between them, but today, they co-ordinated to stage the crumbling theatre’s final panto. Both seemed to know they had little to lose…

May continued in her new-found streak of confidence. Straight off the mark she was on the attack, reversing Corbyn’s right-on praise for the new female Black Rod: “I hope it isn’t going to take 650 years before the Labour Party has a female leader.” The old ones are the best…

She’s knocking out the one-liners now with a sense of release and abandon. In almost every answer she’s batting a line back at Corbyn: not with any particular ferocity or passion, but with a kind of knowing-sass demonstrating she’s no longer self-conscious. She’s like a wife mid-way through marriage, who realising she is past caring, is no longer embarrassed by anything, even by herself…

Venom-filled prune John McDonnell was next for a beating, given a verbal softening-up by the female half of the grey-some: “perhaps the Shadow Chancellor would like to listen to this”, the Prime Minister said, as she outlined his economic illiteracy. McDonnell is so splenetic and readily violent that if you looked under his jacket you wouldn’t be surprised to find he actually comes with a fuse attached. The PM lit it, and sure enough McDonnell was soon throwing his fists around on the frontbench like a hijacker trying to break into a cockpit…

Onto the Chancellor’s statement, which initially felt like budget groundhog-day: just as in March, Phil had once again brought along his spreadsheet of quips, each deployed with all the natural charisma for which the grey-some twosome are renowned. The highlight of the double-act came as Theresa May produced, on cue, a packet of strepsils as Phil said: “I did take the precaution of asking my Right Honourable Friend to bring a packet of cough sweets just in case.” Exciting Prime Minister and Chancellors give one another poisoned chalices and booby-traps. This pair exchange props. A very budget panto…

All of the last-night-of-the-season bon homie had angered Jeremy Corbyn. While the greysome-twosome are simply unfunny, Jezza again proved he is utterly humourless – which is far, far worse. As he attempted to pick-apart the Chancellor’s statement merely by shouting, he suddenly erupted into that Angry Jez alter ego. In the most extreme outbreak of Angry Jez yet witnessed, the senile socialist almost mounted the despatch box as he roared about the Conservatives’ “uncaring, uncouth attitude.” And that is when all May’s zingers and Hammond’s crap jokes finally landed. The grey-some twosome may be dull as dishwater, but you’d rather they ran this great country than Angry Jez…




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Quote of the Day

Sky’s Faisal Islam on the mood in Parliament at the moment:

“It’s a totally febrile atmosphere here. It’s kind of like Game of Thrones meets House of Cards – and if you chuck in the Labour Party – Laurel and Hardy too.”

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