Key Takeaways From This Week’s PMQs

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Boris Johnson is Using PMQs to Sell His Terror Policy Announcement

Johnson was able to frame the debate of today’s PMQs favourably through the opening question which came from Hitchin and Harpenden Tory MP Bim Afolami. The 33-year-old from the 2017 intake welcomed the government’s announcement that came earlier in the week on getting tough on terror. This included promises to scrap early release for criminals convicted of terror offences and lie detector tests for those scheduled for release. Afolami asked the rather vacuous question, ‘Does the PM agree that we need to do whatever we can to stop terrorism?’. This ensured that Boris Johnson started the thirty-minute session on the front foot. Of course, these pointless questions have helped governments throughout the decades to avoid scrutiny. But today’s question reveals the government’s confidence regarding public opinion on Home Secretary Priti Patel’s package of measures on law and order. Last week, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown attempted to help Boris Johnson out of the sticky Huawei situation in a clear effort from the government to avoid this from escalating into a crisis. This week, the government was under no such pressure, suggesting that the Prime Minister is seeking to further capitalise politically on the Labour Party’s infighting and preoccupation with their leadership battle.

Jeremy Corbyn is Keen to Shift His Legacy Away From Anti-Semitism

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As Jeremy Corbyn approaches the end of his tenure as leader of the Labour Party, so too does his time probing the Prime Minister every Wednesday lunch. He is, therefore, starting to think about how to fix his broken legacy which has so far been dominated by accusations of anti-Semitism, incompetence, toxicity, and record levels of opposition front bench resignations. His first move was to mention the upcoming Holocaust Memorial Day, making clear that all forms of racism should be opposed. This took the wind somewhat out of the sails of Boris Johnson’s barrage of humorously dog-whistle, campaign-style responses. However, the wider public probably was reminded of Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Jewish racism within his party. The leader of the opposition then returned to home ground by criticising vehemently Boris Johnson’s defence of bankers’ bonuses whilst at the same time taking working bonuses from the lowest paid. During this exchange, Corbyn bizarrely offered to buy the Prime Minister a vegan sausage roll, a joke which fell rather flat on all sides.

 The Fate of the Union is Back on the Table

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Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, was humiliated before even standing up to ask his allotted questions today. The exchange began when Ben Bradley, a Tory MP, praised the PM for the rising standards in schools, to which Johnson replied that it was a great shame that pupils in Scotland were not afforded the same right to good schools. Johnson then challenged Blackford, who he accused of poising himself to reply like a ‘rocketing pheasant‘, to answer these criticisms. Blackford, sticking to the SNP’s strategy of pitting Scotland against the sinister forces of the out-of-touch Westminster elite, said that the Prime Minister has no respect for devolved parliaments or even the House of Lords. The Lords last night voted to reinstate the Sewel Convention, which states that the UK Parliament may not legislate for devolved matters without the consent of the devolved legislature affected. But Blackford’s words should have been chosen more carefully. When he said, in reference to Brexit, that the Scottish people ‘said no‘, Boris Johnson reappropriated them in the context of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. This is something which Blackford and Nicola Sturgeon have been at pains to forget.

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English student, lifestyle writer.

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