It’s not my normal habit to watch Prime Minister’s Questions on TV. Not even sure why today of all days that I did watch.
What a day to choose to watch.
Theresa May’s words on the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy were well delivered, recovering some lost ground in her earlier failures on the subject. Jeremy Corbyn hit home with some choice comments on Boris Johnson’s leaked remarks, making it uncomfortable for both Mrs May and Boris.
The Prime Minister was on firmer ground explaining the contortions of Brexit voting and backstop arrangements, again committing the country to leaving the EU, single market, and customs union.
Then, absolute uproar. Ian Blackford MP, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, ensured his dismissal from the chamber by refusing to accept a ruling from the Speaker. On leaving the chamber, all of the SNP members followed him out of the chamber.
In my view the Speaker lost control of events. That he wasn’t able to respond to the developing situation without having the House of Commons clerk continually offer him advice, I thought showed a surprising lack of knowledge of procedure, about which he should know more than members.
Of the SNP’s tactics, a pretty amateurish debating strategy. You can only do this once, so it ought be on a phenomenally important point, and this one isn’t that. I have some sympathy with the SNP not getting a chance to speak in yesterday evening’s debates. But to come up with this pre-planned tactic at PMQ’s – to confect outrage at a perceived slight on the Scottish parliament – while then not recognising the offer of an almost immediate debate on their point by the Speaker, proves P. G Wodehouse’s famous quote,
It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.