The lesser-spotted Boris Johnson fumbled and bumbled his way into the Commons chamber, his eyes blinking under the artificial lights. It was a shame he had left his shades back in Mustique. This was his first public appearance since well before Christmas, and he didn’t seem at all match-fit, whatever he had been up to. Next time he might take advantage of the “New Year, New You” deals offered by the Austrian health clinic that Michael Gove swore by.

On the plus side, though, prime minister’s questions is no longer quite the ordeal it used to be. Partly because the new Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, has pared PMQs back to a brisk 30 minutes, but mostly because Boris only has to contend with a lame duck leader of the opposition. A man seemingly intent on reminding everyone just how he managed to lose a general election to one of the most narcissistic and dishonest politicians in living memory.

These days, the Labour benches resemble a group therapy session for people recovering from major trauma. One where no one can bring themselves to look each other in the eye, let alone hold a conversation. And that’s just the few – the unhappy few – who can bring themselves to actually turn up. Most are locked in their own private grief, unable to leave their offices or pick up a phone. They just stare silently into the abyss.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn carries on. Oblivious to the fact that Emily Thornberry could no longer be bothered to take her place on the frontbench, despite there being plenty of room for her, and chose to stand next to the Speaker’s chair instead. Not a good look to get too close to failure. Oblivious to the fact he could start to heal his MPs’ psychological wounds by stepping aside for an interim leader.

Rather he prefers to hang on, desperate for his legacy to be somehow preserved. After all, only the previous day Rebecca Long Bailey had scored his performance as leader as 10 out of 10. Just imagine how high he would have scored if he had actually won the last election rather than leading Labour to its worst result since 1935. Fourteen out of 10 at least. Besides, it was now far better to fight off the wrong types of members in his own party, rather than bother to seriously oppose the government.

Iran dominated the six brief half-hearted exchanges. Corbyn did repeat his reasonable point from the day before about it generally being considered illegal to whack foreign leaders, but Boris just shrugged the whole thing off. So what if we were on the brink of World War III? It might never happen, and even if it did it would probably all be over by Christmas. Christmas 2025.

Besides, it was up to Donald Trump to decide what he thought was legal. The UN were such a bunch of wimps when it came to killing people. Caution was for pussies. Surely every president or prime minister should be allowed to get away with one extrajudicial assassination, otherwise what was the point of having the top job? The Donald’s marriage had been on the rocks for years, and a man had to get excited somehow.

The Labour leader didn’t help himself by failing to condemn Qassem Suleimani’s terrorist leanings. His argument might have carried a lot more weight if he had brought himself to say that the whole point of international law was that no one country had the right to choose which psychotic murdering bastard it got to take out. Otherwise there might be almost no one left in charge anywhere.

No matter. Boris merely reiterated his undying support for Trump, which in no way had anything to do with his desire for a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, and accused Corbyn of being a paid-up member of the Iranian regime. Then again, the prime minister’s father has made a fair few appearances on Press TV himself. Perhaps Stanley had also better watch out for drone strikes.

The rest of the session was pretty much a non-event. One Labour MP tried to bring up Brexit, but his heart wasn’t really in it and Boris could barely be bothered to mumble a non-answer. Brexit was so 2019. The new People’s Government was all about doing exciting things. Though nothing immediately came to mind. Rather it was just wishful thinking. A return to Merrie England with Morris Dancing and a Town of the Year competition.

No Tory MP had anything worthwhile to say. Mainly because there was nothing worthwhile to say. All they really wanted was a bit of attention from a leader who had not even made the effort to learn their names. Or acknowledge their presence. Boris just blustered a few platitudes, aided and abetted by Needy Matt Hancock, who bounced up and down promising people new A&E departments in every constituency. And even on Northern Rail once its trains were working again.

This was the new normal. PMQs as window dressing. A token nod to democracy in which the prime minister could go almost totally unchallenged. The Borisworld that Boris had always imagined existed since he had been at school. A world without consequences. Boris shuffled out of the chamber, to go undercover for another week. He had never had it so good. The Way We Live Now.


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