The real Keir Starmer has decided to stand up, just as Boris Johnson was told to sit down by the Speaker of the House in a rowdy PMQs this afternoon.
The Labour leader remembered that he is, in fact, the leader and in a constant interview to be Prime Minister.
“I lead, he covers up,” he bellowed at Johnson yesterday, who fell foul of Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s temper not once, not twice, but three times.
Rather than starting in on the Prime Minister with the easy shot of corruption, Sir Keir launched his attack with the rumours the North would be shortchanged in the Integrated Rail Review to be published tomorrow.
In other words, he remembered that people might just forgive sleaze, if it means they can get the levelling up they were promised.
Only once he had set the scene of Tories which don’t deliver, did he turn to the standards row kicked off by the attempt to protect Owen Paterson and the slew of MPs with second jobs.
“Weeks, weeks, weeks defending corruption.Yesterday, a screeching last-minute U-turn to avoid defeat on Labour’s plan to ban MPs from dodgy second contracts. Waving one white flag won’t be enough to restore trust,” Starmer stormed.
The Labour leader’s crescendo tied together the standards row and the rail review with a performance from the opposite benches rarely seen when Sir Keir isn’t self-isolating.
Johnson, with a raspy voice, delivered a pre-rehearsed pun questioning Sir Keir’s own former second job, which earned him £25,000 from law firm Mischon de Reya. But it drew the ire of the Speaker, who demanded the Prime Minister sit down and “play by the rules”.
“I’ve made it very clear, this is Prime Minister’s questions, it’s not opposition questions, like it or not, those are the rules and we play by the rules, don’t we?”
Sir Lindsay didn’t let the Labour leader off either, who was forced to withdraw a comment branding Johnson a “coward”. But the constant interventions during Johnson’s performance only helped make Starmer look like the reasonable next-best thing in the Commons, while Johnson was reduced to a temper tantrum befitting of his eighteen-month toddler.