The SNP stormed out of PMQs, and Mhairi Black looked like she was trying to start a fight

UK

At the end of Prime Minister’s Questions, an hour and 15 minutes after it had begun, Speaker John Bercow turned his eye toward the public gallery and paid tribute to the impeccable behaviour of the tiny baby who had sat there throughout, and who it turned out, belonged to Clive Lewis, the Labour member for Norwich South.

It was fitting, in its way. A mere 30 minutes before, the behaviour of the actual baby of the house, the 23-year-old member for Paisley and Renfrewshire, Mhairi Black, had arguably been less than impeccable. If the SNP’s mass walkout in the middle of Prime Minister’s Questions is viewed through its proper prism as a heavily coordinated stunt, Black excelled in the role assigned to her by her Westminster leader Ian Blackford, which anyone who has watched any of the many documentaries on the armed bank robber gangs of the 1970s would understand as that of “Shotgun one: the frightener.”

As she wheeled her way from the chamber, briefly having mistaken the green benches for the green seats of the away end at Celtic Park (the club she is on record as “f***ing hating”), she stopped to repeatedly jab her finger in the direction of the Scottish Tories on the benches opposite, shouting desecrations that mercifully do not require formal recording in Hansard.

Moments later, after the TV cameras had rushed to the SNP cause and found them assembled in formation on College Green, that very same finger would be captured being jabbed not in the direction of her political adversaries but up her nose. 

(Whether it then found its way into her gob is a matter on which the available video footage is inconclusive. Indeed, if Fifa’s new Video Assistant Referee Unit, currently sitting in full kit in a Portakabin somewhere in Moscow, is looking to make itself useful in the hours before the World Cup kicks off later, then do feel free to adjudicate.)

Ian Blackford was angry that in the two long days of parliamentary debate and 12 separate votes over the Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, only 15 minutes had been assigned to the question of how it would affect various powers that have been devolved to Scotland.

He has no real right to be any more angry than the rest of us. Although no one actually understands them, these are matters of the gravest importance. Each last vote on the customs union, the meaningful vote on the terms of the deal and so on, counted. The government was forced to compromise, and to flirt with defeat on a number of occasions.

So it is certainly arguable that in executing a pre-planned stunt that gave the Speaker no option but to expel Mr Blackford from the chamber for the rest of the day, barring him from taking part in a large number of crucial votes, the SNP’s leader at Westminster had not put to the most constructive use the power vested in him by his party and constituency.

That said, the alternative would have been only to remain in the chamber and pretend to understand what was going on. 

For the first six months of her premiership, when asked what kind of exit from the European Union Theresa May sought to pursue she would only ever answer, “Brexit means Brexit.” Whether that answer looks more daft a) at the time or b) in hindsight now that, according to a brief interjection from her deputy David Lidington, Brexit in fact means a sunset clause at the end of the time-limited customs backstop after the transition period,  well that is a discussion to light up the pub tables of the land.

It should also be put on record that Jeremy Corbyn began proceedings with the best question he has ever asked on these occasions – a true classic. One of the upsides of Theresa May possessing all the emotional intelligence of a Third World dictator’s wayward son, is that she has virtually no friends in political circles whatsoever, so her feelings on the personal side of politics remain every bit as unknown as her supposed talents for the job.

“When the prime minister met President Donald Trump last week did she do as the foreign secretary suggested and ask him to take over the Brexit negotiations?” Mr Corbyn had breezily asked her.

The foreign secretary, a man who has been pictured in his running gear more often than Moses Kiptanui, and yet who is currently redder and rounder than he has ever been before, just crossed his arms and chuckled, his flaxen hair completing the look of a giant strawberry dipped in white chocolate.

That his boss fell silent for what felt like hours, reduced to nothing but a hyper-extended glower, a spike of metal driven through a navy two piece, was as revealing as anything she has ever not said in her life. 

In case anyone was ever in any doubt – she absolutely loathes him, and the world now knows it. Jeremy 1 Theresa May 0. (The SNP… ooh, about minus four.)

Leave a Reply