Today was David Cameron’s 147th – and final – Prime Minister’s Questions. 147, not a bad knock all considered, and rather unfortunate in the manner of dismissal: caught out on the boundary by a Eurosceptic when swinging for a six. Rotten luck – he should have played it straight.
But before the long walk back to the pavilion there was just time for his swansong: and boy what a swansong it was. Mr. Cameron naturally opted to go out in style – no gingham shirt this time, gosh no, strictly Tory blue twill and matching necktie. Dolled up, he then treated us to a real treat: a whistlestop tour of all the tricks of the trade that made him one of the best PMQs performers to have ever graced the despatch box.
To kick off the PM began with a full display of impeccably researched pop culture trivia, enthusiastically congratulating the full list of British Wimbledon winners with barely a glance at his notes. So clued up was he that when Corbyn went off-piste with praise for American Serena Williams, he was able to wholeheartedly agree, noting how she’d “now overtaken Steffi Graf’s amazing record of 22 grand slams”. Few come to the Chamber this well prepared.
Trivia done with, now a lesson in how to dismantle an argument in style. When challenged on his economic record by his opposite number, the PM furrowed his brow in condescension, before demanding that “if we are going to talk about the economic record, let us get the facts straight”. Having teed himself up he then boomed that since he took office “we have cut the deficit by two thirds”, and that “there are 2.5 million more people in work in our country”. One elbow propping up the despatch box, he went on to rattle off a succession of similar rapid fire statistics with his thumb, completely in command of the chamber. Facts duly listed and voice at a crescendo, he delivered the humourous parting blow that, while Corbyn accuses him of economic sloth, “if they ever got into power, it would take them about a year to work out who would sit where”. This was Cameron in full flow, hitting his opponent with a flurry of highly specific data, all the while cockily leaning forwards as if holding court in a saloon bar.