Whenever a new Leader of the Opposition appears at PMQs it is always a big parliamentary occasion and so it was this morning in the very unusual situation of the MPs social distancing and some MPs joining in on Zoom.
Starmer’s first big decision, and one which was a real statement of intent, was that unlike previous times when the PM is not available Starmer decided that he would take PMQs facing Raab.
It was a PMQs like we have not seen before. Starmer was forensic, measured and showed how he can think on his feet – qualities that you would associate with someone who had been a successful Director of Public Prosecutions before he entered Parliament.
One thing there wasn’t was theatrics. Starmer’s manner is very quiet and the sparely populated chamber meant there were no cheering backbenbers on either side.
The prime job of an opposition is to hold the government to account and Starmer sought to do that in very effective manner which will benefit more than his party.
The big moment will come in a few weeks time when Johnson has recovered and he is able to take PMQs himself again. In his first 9 months in the job Johnson has had a very easy facing Corbyn. How he handles the new man now could have a huge political impact.