It seems not even a sex scandal can force this opposition into a debate

I guess what happens in the Carlton stays in the Carlton, because when the PM delivered a statement on his world tour of acronyms (Nato, CHOGM and the G7), Labour didn’t mention Chris Pincher once, and neither did the SNP. In fact, the Chamber was half empty.

Perhaps the opposition thought “MP gropes voters” is less a scandal, more a job description – or maybe they didn’t want to sully a Ukraine speech with gossip. But it’s extraordinary that in an institution of 650 members, many of them willing to deport their own mother for publicity, not one of them raised old Pinchy. Then again, I can’t think of a single MP who has, in the House, called for Ukraine and Russia to negotiate – and with Keir Starmer suddenly backing Brexit, debate feels dead.

So, unleash the clods of war!

“I take a real interest in the size of our army,” said the venerable Barry Sheerman, who complained that, like Toblerones, it’s getting smaller every year. He reminded the House that his father fought in the war, though whether this was Boer or Crimea was unclear. MPs love a chance to sound like Kissinger. 

“In the space of seven days,” said the PM, “I worked alongside more than 80 governments”, to “ensure that Ukraine prevails”. He was glad to “smooth the path” of Sweden and Finland into Nato, and to work with that lynchpin of Western defence, Estonia, “to establish their own divisional headquarters”, which is going to have the best damned photocopier and kettle that money can buy.

Sir Keir welcomed his speech. Mr Johnson welcomed his welcome, though he still had a pop at the members of the Labour frontbench who want to abolish our nukes (I bet Starmer wished he’d name dropped Pincher after all). You can regard this as healthy bipartisanship, you can see it as the PM wrapping himself in the flag to deflect attacks, but patriotism is “in” right now.

Ed Davey asked how Boris could lead the world when he is cutting army personnel and “raising unfair taxes”, which positions the Lib Dems as the party of both guns and butter: populist, but not very liberal and, as Tory Mark Harper noted, jolly expensive. Surely, said John Redwood, we must “invest in more production of oil and gas” in Britain? “Yes”, said the PM, reversing his entire energy policy in one word. “We have to be less neuralgic about using our domestic hydrocarbons.” Ha! That’s not what he told Greta Thunberg at Cop26.

Boris reassured Parliament that we can cover our defence costs with “sustained and steady growth”. Okay. But if we are going to rebuild our military, and if Ukraine is going to do all the fighting, then what are we actually going to do with this brand spanking new army? Perhaps it could be deployed in Pall Mall clubs to protect members from unilateral incursions by drunken MPs. “He Who Dares” gets carried out into the street by a meaty marine – and dumped in a puddle.

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