Fair is foul and foul is fair. Friends are foes and foes are friends.
The natural has become unnatural in Westminster: no more so than at prime minister’s questions. David Cameron may still have his reservations about Jeremy Corbyn’s attire and willingness to sing the national anthem, but he finds the Labour leader a great deal more simpatico than many of those sitting on his own benches. The love isn’t necessarily fully reciprocated yet, but Dave has been more than happy to put in the hours working on the bromance. On Wednesday, his efforts appeared to be paying off.
“I want to talk about childcare,” said Corbyn. Dave was thrilled. Ideally he might have preferred to go on a few more dates before getting round to the major relationship minefields, but if that’s what Jeremy wanted, that’s what Jeremy would have. “I’m delighted to talk about childcare,” he purred. “There’s nothing I’d like more than to talk about childcare.” Now he came to look more closely, Jeremy’s personal style did have a certain je ne sais quoi.
Corbyn was slightly unnerved by Dave’s enthusiasm and started playing a little harder to get. “Can we talk about the National Audit Office report?” he said, backing off. Dave was not to be denied. “Sure we can talk about the NAO report,” Dave cooed, rubbing himself suggestively against the dispatch box. “There’s nothing I would like more, big boy.”
This was too much for Corbyn, who started to question some of Dave’s figures. Dave smiled. He knew a fellow pick-up artist when he saw one. If Jeremy could neg him, then he could neg back. Only better. A weak gag about Yanis Varoufakis should do the trick. Bingo! Jeremy moved swiftly on to teacher recruitment. The relationship had progressed from childcare to schooling in next to no time. Shame Jeremy’s six questions were now up; one more and they might have got on to talking about buying a retirement home together. Same time, same place, next week.
Fair is foul and foul is fair. Dave’s relationship with the SNP’s Angus Robertson has often in the past been one of visceral mutual contempt – their couples therapist says it might be because they are both too similar – but now they have found a way of maintaining a polite semi-detachment. “I want to talk about why staying in the EU is a beautiful thing,” said Robertson. Dave was all ears, because he too believed that staying in the EU was a beautiful thing.
“The EU is a place of peace and lurve,” Dave said, visibly stung by accusations that he had been running a campaign of Project Fear. “I think it’s incredibly positive to point out that everyone was hacking each other to death 70 years ago and that there will be a third world war if we leave the EU.” Robertson wasn’t sure whether to agree or despair. He settled for both. Same time, same place, next week.
Fair is foul and fair is foul. At any other time, Dave would have welcomed a question from arch-eurosceptic Bernard Jenkin. But not today. Dave’s body tensed when Jenkin’s name was called. Then momentary relief. Dave’s spads had managed to trap the little bastard in the toilets after all. “Where is the fellow?” boomed John Bercow. “He’s locked in the lavs,” squeaked fellow Brexiteer David Davis. Never one to pass up the opportunity to sow discord, the speaker let Davis take Jenkin’s turn.
“What’s all this about HMRC concealing the real number of foreigners coming into the county,” he growled. “There’s a conspiracy going on, I’m sure of it.” Dave was equally convinced that there were no cover-ups. “The discrepancy in national insurance numbers is down to those working for short periods of time,” he said. He refrained from calling Davis a shit. Philip Hammond did that for him.
Concerned to see his leader so upset, tame Tory europhile Richard Benyon tried to cheer him up. “I have it on good authority that every fish passionately believes Britain is better off staying in the EU,” he said. Though, on balance they’d rather stay in the water. “I think so too,” said Dave, moderately cheered. Same time, same plaice, next week.
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