Dominic Raab was like a child trying to blow into a trumpet and only managing to produce a pathetic little parp: HENRY DEEDES is unimpressed as Rishi’s deputy takes on Angela Rayner at PMQs
As any long-suffering second-in-command will attest, the first duty of a deputy is to perform all the horrible tasks the boss either can’t be fagged to do or (more often than not) doesn’t dare do themselves.
Whether it’s a browbeaten deputy headmaster or a put-upon sous-chef, you can be sure it’s the Number 2 that gets the short end of the stick.
Ever noticed, for example, that whenever a football side gets walloped it’s often the assistant manager who’s trotted out for journalists to hurl brickbats at?
I spent the best part of half a decade as the deputy editor of various gossip columns. Whenever an awkward phone call needed to be made concerning, say, a marriage break-up, or a delicate incident involving a libidinous old duke and the nubile young cloakroom attendant at the Savoy Grill, you can probably guess the poor sap who was handed the honours.
Yet no poor downtrodden deputy dawg has ever had it nearly half as bad, surely, as our beleaguered Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.
It’s the Number 2 that gets the short end of the stick but no one has ever had it nearly half as bad, surely, as our beleaguered Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab (pictured)
Any upsides of being deputy PM are immediately negated by the prospect of having to deal with Angela Rayner (pictured) while standing in at PMQs
Oh, no doubt there are perks to the position – chauffeur-driven limo, a grace-and-favour schloss at weekends etc. But any upsides are immediately negated by the prospect of having to deal with Angela Rayner while standing in at PMQs.
Yesterday, Mr Raab was on duty after Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer skipped off to attend former speaker Betty Boothroyd’s funeral. Incidentally, I can’t be totally sure how Betty would have reacted had she been aware that Parliamentary business was being interrupted on her behalf – but I’m fairly confident it would have unprintable.
There is always a slight frisson in the air before these Rayner vs Raab bouts. Labour MPs tend to be excitable, possibly because they know that at the very least it won’t be as dull as when Sir Keir is in the cockpit.
Yesterday Labour’s deputy leader chose to flout the usual convention by entering the chamber after Raab had already sat down. Deliberate? Almost certainly.
She wore shin kicker heels and a zip-up jacket with a fulsome collar. And as Labour’s backbenches cheered, she threw them an extravagant flick of her abundant leonine curls, leaving some of the meeker creatures around her scurrying for cover.
Rayner attacked the Government’s recent anti-social behaviour crackdown, using it to launch a barb about the bullying allegations being levelled at Raab. ‘He knows about thugs with their intimidating behaviour,’ she yelled.
Raab’s unamused response: ‘I’ve never called anyone “scum”.’ Around the chamber echoed a volley of playground ‘ooohs’.
That seemed to tee things up nicely. Until Rayner persevered with tackling Raab on law and order which immediately sucked any fun from proceedings.
Several times she pointlessly demanded he apologise for poor conviction rates during his time as Justice Secretary. As if politicians ever apologise for anything.
Yesterday, Mr Raab was on duty after Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer skipped off to attend former speaker Betty Boothroyd’s funeral
Dominic Raab was like a child trying to blow into a trumpet and only managing to produce a pathetic little parp, writes Henry Deedes
Dealing with Ms Rayner at the despatch box is becoming increasingly like trying to get through to your bank on one of those maddening automated phone lines. Whatever anyone says, she just repeats the same question over and over. The difference being, of course, that Rayner’s voice becomes louder and more aggressive in tone.
As she and Raab whacked facts and statistics back and forth aimlessly at each other, the atmosphere in the chamber grew stale and lifeless. Behind the Speaker’s chair, Tory backbenchers began discussing their Easter holiday plans.
If Rayner was subpar, Raab too was roundly useless. His weedy voice doesn’t help. Reminds me of a child trying to blow into a trumpet and only managing to produce a pathetic little parp. One longed to give him a shake and demand he give it some welly.
At one point Rayner made a crack about this possibly being his last PMQs, what with the whole bullying thing hanging over his head. That did actually get under Raab’s skin.
He looked dazed, fed up – a weary cabin crew assistant after a particularly rowdy flight back from Benidorm. If Rayner’s right and he is kaput, he may not entirely miss these encounters.
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