SKETCH: Angela Rayner was ferocious in her onslaught as a newly demoted Dominic Raab moped at the Despatch Box, writes Ben Glaze
Demoted Dominic Raab – denied a trip to the US that was inked in his diary until exactly a week ago – strode to the Despatch Box to field Prime Minister’s Questions as Boris Johnson held talks in Washington DC.
By Johnson’s side in the US was Liz Truss – the woman who succeeded Raab as Foreign Secretary just seven days ago.
It was a brutal illustration of Dom’s dumping that here he was at noon on Wednesday, answering MPs’ inquiries about seasonal agricultural workers, GP appointments and rail services in Dorset, rather than 3,000 miles across the Atlantic.
Parliamentary convention dictates that if the PM is absent from their weekly grilling, the Leader of the Opposition also steps aside.
Keir Starmer gallantly gave way to his deputy Angela Rayner, who has more titles than a local library.
Brace yourself – Rayner is Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work and Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition. She’s also deputy Labour leader.
She is also a natural Commons performer, utterly confident in her own skin and, let’s face it, always up for a scrap.
Rayner ripped into Raab over the looming living standards crisis, his tussle with Truss for the keys to a luxury grace-and-favour mansion in Kent, and his Greek holiday as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.
He should “go back to his sunlounger and let me take over”, stormed Rayner.
She peppered her living standards attack with repeated use of the word “quid”: “A typical family is facing a tough winter this year – Universal Credit down a thousand quid; rent up 150 quid; gas bills up 150 quid.”
It sounded, and surely was, totally natural from her; one could not imagine QC and knight of the realm Starmer sounding so comfortable deploying slang in the Commons.
Raab appeared resigned to his mauling, smiling grimly at the ferocity, effectiveness and force of the onslaught.
How he must have wanted to be in America.