Johnson and Starmer have fought to a standstill over Partygate and Beergate – now it’s time to refocus

Both leaders opened the new parliamentary session by talking about things that really matter – like the cost of living, writes John Rentoul

Tuesday 10 May 2022 19:17
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<p>The Labour leader pretended to laugh in an easygoing way while he and Boris Johnson walked side by side to the House of Lords</p>

The Labour leader pretended to laugh in an easygoing way while he and Boris Johnson walked side by side to the House of Lords

Keir Starmer did not mention lockdown law or accuse the prime minister of lying, and his speech at the start of the debate on the Queen’s Speech was so much the better for it. It was a serious speech, so serious that the Labour MPs seemed bored and disappointed.

But it had the advantage of setting out a clear prospectus for the second half of this parliament: the case against the government and the beginnings of a clear, modest and costed alternative from Labour.

The Labour leader pretended to laugh in an easygoing way while he and Boris Johnson walked side by side to the House of Lords to hear the Gracious Speech. And he did so again while he was back in the Commons and mocked by Graham Stuart, the long-serving Conservative backbencher chosen to make the traditional humorous start-of-term speech. But a couple of feeble jokes about the only opening in the north for Starmer being the opening of a police investigation, and a rhyme of karma and korma, were the only references to the leader of the opposition’s offer yesterday to resign if served with a penalty notice.

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