Wednesday, 29 March 2017

PMQs Review 29th March 2017: The Legs and Brexit Edition

By the time this is written and you are reading it the letter of about 7 pages will have been handed over by the world's best paid postman, our ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow. We will be on our way out.

As a consequence PMQs feels like a bit of a sideshow today doesn't it, or at least even more of a sideshow in this era of Chauncey than it usually is. It's not just that today sees the Prime Minister finally send that letter to the EU and that consequently Armaggedon is just around the corner, it is that the Prime Minister is a woman. And the First Minister of Scotland is a woman. And they met this week to discuss Brexit and Scottish referendums. And they both have legs. Yes legs. Two women. With legs.

This has sent the nation all unnecessary. Ukip have set out their conditions for the use of legs and Labour have set out their own conditions too, which are the exact opposite. Both are deliberately unrealistic in the hope that, when the PM fails to use her legs in the correct manner they will be able to leap up and down (on their legs) and tell us that they told us so.

The front page of the Daily Mail was of course ludicrous but then the reaction to it has been ludicrous too. Two powerful women with nice pairs of pins. This is outrageous apparently rather than merely trivial and stupid. Are we really saying that men like David Cameron, Gordon Brown, George Osborne and Tony Blair to pick a few at random did not also suffer from such tabloid treatment? I submit the following pictures for your consideration. Viewers of a delicate and sensitive nature should look away now.

And then of course there is Chauncey. How he must wish that someone would write something, anything, that was in any sense complimentary. Does he have nice legs? Should he start wearing shorts to the Commons? I rather suspect that he has scrawny legs in keeping with his hessian politics of miserable asceticism, but I could be wrong. Anyway this is the least of Labour's worries because the confused old chap continues to be a drag on his party, which is languishing 20 points behind in the polls with May elections heading our way as rapidly as a Daily Mail headline about the fashion choices of party leaders. They are even haemorrhaging members now with thousands letting their memberships lapse for a variety of reasons. Even Labour Party staffers are leaving in droves to go back to jobs working for charities, unions or even for the private sector. No, really. What would happen if the confused old chap were to finally give up and go back to his ethnic date selection? Do any of the prospective replacements have nice legs? Someone needs to start thinking about this kind of thing before Theresa pulls on a pair of leather trousers and calls an election.

Speaking of elections they might have to have another one in Northern Ireland since Sinn Fein and the DUP have been unable to reach agreement on a new power sharing arrangement meaning either fresh elections or direct rule from Westminster. Another possibility, with Brexit now looming, is that they could have a referendum on whether or not to unite with Ireland and thus stay in the EU. This is apparently a realistic scenario. Sounds great doesn't it. Talk about a win/win for the rest of the country. Leave the EU and get shot of Ireland at the same time.

One piece of good news though, Nigel Farage, always supposing he does not become the next as well as the last leader of Ukip has said that he will go and live abroad if Brexit turns out to be a disaster. How would he define disastrous do we think? Is he a Guardian reader? Where abroad will he go? Will Ireland have him? We'd send him with a knighthood as part of the package......

Something truly and properly historic happened today. Forget about leaving the EU, today for the first time in this blogger's memory, Chauncey actually took the option of splitting up his questions. His first three questions, which were at least questions unlike on some occasions recently, were on the subject of the police and security services, issues that have only concerned him in the past when he railed against them at protest marches and accused them of complicity in something or other. They probably spy on him. Today, in addition to praising them and their work he asked if they had the resources they need. The PM, hardly surprisingly, said that they did. Chauncey then effectively asked the same question again another couple of times. The PM, hardly surprisingly, gave the same answer and contrasted the Government's actions on cash with the pronouncements of Andy Burnham, the former Shadow Home Secretary and now one of those rats trying to leave Chauncey's sinking ship.

Angus Robertson this week wore his angry face and asked why oh why Scotland is once again being ignored. If only we could ignore them, or at least the SNP. Imagine a world in which they had nothing to complain about. If they ever get independence they will probably complain because they are no longer able to sit in the House of Commons and blame others for their historic mistake.

Chauncey stood up for his second batch of questions and returned to the subject of education and education spending. He asked a couple of weeks ago about the schools budget and got a response from the PM. This, he has now decided, was unsatisfactory. He asked her if she wished to reconsider. This is excellent. The Commons has seen many brilliant performers in its long history. It has heard many excellent speeches, heard many witty and clever rejoinders. Chauncey tries to join this noble history. It's just that it takes him a couple of weeks to think them up.

And even then, though the PM's answers were hardly fluent, he still didn't have her on the ropes. He had a list of organisations including the Public Accounts Committee, telling us that spending on schools has fallen. Mrs May's answer, using a rather narrow interpretation of spending in cash terms rather than real terms, sounded repetitive and embarrassed for the good reason that it was and is. But Chauncey once again failed to capitalise. He had delivered a blow and had a point about spending. But he lacked the wit, intelligence or capacity to forensically examine what she said.

At the end, as so often, she delivered her best pre-prepared lines about Chauncey always calling for ever higher spending. Her cheerleaders behind her parroted the lines.

Ultimately though none of this mattered. While she was answering questions the letter was delivered. Britain is leaving the EU. The PM delivered her confirmation of this after this truncated session of PMQs was finished. She will then answer more questions on that narrower subject.

Oh and one final point in the week when the nation has been admiring the legs of the Prime Minister and the First Minister, may I just point out that Priti Patel was looking especially splendid today.

Tomorrow Parliament rises for the Easter recess. The next PMQs is on 19th April.

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