Angela Rayner made the most of Boris Johnson’s big mistake over Owen Paterson at PMQs

The deputy Labour leader made the most of the prime minister’s attempt to overturn the finding that one of his MPs broke the rules, writes John Rentoul

Wednesday 03 November 2021 14:20
<p>‘If you keep cheating the public it catches up with you in the end’: Angela Rayner </p>

‘If you keep cheating the public it catches up with you in the end’: Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner is a lucky politician. After she embarrassed herself by calling the Conservatives “scum”, she managed a full if belated apology last week, and this week was able to move on from her misjudgement with one of the most effective attacks on the government since Boris Johnson became prime minister.

The coincidence of an error of judgement on Johnson’s part, and Keir Starmer being forced to isolate after testing positive for coronavirus, handed her an opportunity she didn’t waste. It is not often a prime minister makes a decision as bad as this. The idea that Tory MPs don’t think the rules apply to them had already gained enough purchase among the general public that it should have alarmed No 10. Now Johnson has put it up in lights.

A lot of MPs believe that public opinion is not interested in the details of Commons disciplinary procedures, but I think they are mistaken. The issue is simple. “Paid advocacy is wrong,” as the prime minister said. He went on to say that “this is not the issue in this case” and said that it was about whether an MP has a right of appeal against a finding.

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