Keir Starmer has used Boris Johnson’s last appearance at the Prime Minister’s questions to taunt him about how the candidates to succeed him as Conservative leader “have destroyed every part of their record” as they fought each other.
In a generally quiet final set of Commons exchanges between the pair, Starmer turned his attention back to the remaining hopefuls – Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt – and repeatedly quoted their criticisms of Johnson’s record in number 10.
Tory MPs will vote later on Wednesday, two of which will advance to a vote among party members.
“I think the message coming out of this leadership contest is pretty clear: they got us into this mess and they have no idea how to get us out of it,” the Labor leader told Johnson, citing condemnatory quotes about tax. . , public services and growth.
“They have destroyed every part of their government record, from dental care and ambulance response times to the highest taxes in 70 years. What message does it send if the prime minister candidates can’t find anything decent to say about him, about each other, or about their track record?”
Johnson responded with attacks on Starmer: “What does it say about him that no one can name a single policy after three years of Labor opposition, apart from raising taxes?” — and with his now traditional reference to the Covid vaccine rollout and his Brexit deal.
The final PMQs before the summer recess will likely be the last time Johnson addresses the House of Commons as Prime Minister, and Lindsay Hoyle, the chairman, started the session by pleading for a “respectful manner”, something which was immediately ignored by many MPs.
Starmer mocked Johnson over the often bitter and personal exchanges in the Tory leadership match, comparing it to EastEnders and noting that Sunak and Truss had pulled out of a third scheduled TV debate, canceling it.
“They hosted the TV debates because they thought it would be a great opportunity for the public to hear first-hand from the candidates,” said Starmer. “Then disaster struck: the public really heard about the candidates firsthand.”
In subsequent questions, Starmer quoted Truss, the secretary of state, who asked Sunak why as chancellor he had overseen such anemic economic growth, and Sunak’s joke about the “fantasy economy of unfunded spending promises” of his rivals.
Johnson said he “didn’t follow this thing particularly closely,” before insisting that his track record on the economy was exemplary.
Starmer, referring to the 40-year record inflation rate of 9.4%, replied: “He has decided to come out of his gold-covered bunker one last time to tell us that everything is okay. I’m going to miss the delusion.”
While some Tory MPs tried to berate him, Starmer said: “I understand they may not want to hear what their future leader thinks of their track record in government. But I think the country should know.”
Johnson, who ended up thanking his fellow Tory MPs, said Starmer was just trying to block things. “Every time something has to be done, they try to resist it. He’s a great, pointless human bollard,” he said.
The outgoing prime minister closed the boisterous session with a short speech reflecting on his own track record and giving tips to his successor, including: “cut taxes and deregulation where you can” and “focus on the road ahead.” you’re lying down, but don’t forget to check the back. look in the mirror”.
He added: “I love the Treasury, but remember if we’d always listened to the Treasury, we wouldn’t have built the M25 or the Channel Tunnel.”
Johnson’s press secretary went on to say that he had not excavated at Sunak, but had made a “broader point” about major infrastructure projects.
Holding his own record, which includes championing Ukraine and taking Britain out of the EU, Johnson said it was “largely accomplished,” before signing with Arnold Schzwarzeneger’s slogan from the movie Terminator 2: “Hasta la vista, baby” from 1991.
Conservative MPs, who had removed Johnson from office less than a fortnight ago, rose to give him a standing ovation as he left the room. Opposition MPs did not join in the applause, and neither did Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May.