HENRY DEEDES: God give me strength, Starmer is a Line of Duty devotee!

God give me strength, fella – Keir Starmer is a Line of Duty devotee! HENRY DEEDES on PMQs, Greensill and the Labour leader’s boy band haircut

Mother of God! PMQs had gone all Line of Duty. Trails of cash. Politicians on the make. Dodgy phone records. Houl yer whisht, son, and send for Superintendent Ted Hastings, pronto!

Once again the Commons agenda yesterday was dominated by David Cameron’s dicey dealings with Chelsea-booted Aussie dingo, Lex Greensill.

Latest twist in this murky melodrama: Greensill was employing civil servants while they were still working in Whitehall.

Oh, didn’t you just know that Sir Keir Starmer would be a Line of Duty devotee with all that technical jargon and ‘for the purposes of the tape’ malarkey

God, give me strength, fella! Or as Sir Keir Starmer remarked with a self-satisfied curl of the lip: ‘You couldn’t make it up.’ For Sir Keir, here lay proof as clear as neatly cut crystal there was a ‘revolving door, indeed an open door’ between the Government and paid lobbyists.

‘The more I listen to the Prime Minister the more I think that AC-12 are needed to get to the bottom of this one,’ he said in direct reference to the anti-corruption unit in the BBC drama.

Oh, didn’t you just know that Sir Keir would be a Line of Duty devotee. All that technical jargon about ‘OCGs’ and ‘CHIS’ (whatever the heck they are) and ‘for the purposes of the tape’ malarkey. 

As a former Director of Public Prosecutions, it’s just his bag. Bet he can’t help pointing out all the legalistic inaccuracies while poor Lady Starmer is trying to follow the plot.

Boris Johnson frowned and admitted the situation was far from satisfactory. That’s why he’d ordered an independent review.

Bet the Labour leader can’t help pointing out all the legalistic inaccuracies while poor Lady Starmer is trying to follow the plot

‘We are getting on with rooting out bent coppers,’ he joked back, taking another chunk out of Line of Duty’s edgy reputation. (Creator Jed Mercurio must have been grinding his teeth into a fine powder.)

More from Henry Deedes for the Daily Mail…

Starmer was noticeably more aggressive than in recent weeks. He was also sporting a slightly too short new haircut. A bit 1990s boy band, if you ask me.

He honked on about the Greensill saga being evidence of ‘the sleaze that’s at the heart of this Conservative government’. Ah sleaze, that other 90s phenomenon which conjures images of cash-stuffed brown envelopes and Tory ministers staggering around with their Y-fronts around their ankles.

You’ll find no skeletons in straight-as-a-die Sir Keir’s cupboard. No siree. No incriminating piccies or saucy free stays at the Paris Ritz. As he reminded the House yesterday, he’d helped bang up MPs who’d fiddled their expenses. Cripes, Superintendent Hastings would love this guy.

The PM’s comebacks meanwhile were terribly thin. He had a go at Labour for vowing to repeal the Lobbying Act, an ineffectual piece of 2014 legislation. Author: One D Cameron.

Boris tried to nobble Starmer for taking advice from Lord Mandelson, now a noted lobbyist himself 

Later, Boris tried to nobble Starmer for taking advice from Lord Mandelson, now a noted lobbyist himself and whose firm, Global Counsel, keeps its list of clients more closely guarded than a theatre grand dame’s birth year.

‘I have not heard a defence that ridiculous since my last days in the Crown court!’ Sir Keir scoffed. Labour’s backbenchers, a fair-weather bunch, were predictably noisy. Same old blooooody Tories. Down front, deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, lobbed gobby jibes over the dispatch box wearing the most alarming set of platform boots I’ve seen.

And as a dedicated admirer of Ange’s extensive collection of shin kickers, believe me that’s saying something. It wasn’t clear whether Boris felt the scandal was much for him to worry about. At times, he seemed happy to agree with Starmer that the whole business stunk like a bag of mouldy maris pipers.

At others, he simply gulped air and pulled incredulous faces. Certainly, this ‘sleaze’ tag has nasty way of sticking to governments. Just ask Sir John Major.

Or perhaps the PM feels it’s David Cameron’s problem.

He was certainly keen to distance himself from Dave. When Ruth Cadbury (Lab, Brentford) asked when was the last time he and the ex-PM were in touch, Boris practically trampolined his way on to his feet to announce it had been so long since they spoke that he couldn’t even remember.

Considering his disdain for Dave, I’m sure that’s right. Still, DI Arnott best check out his phone records all the same…

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