AFTER 32 years in Parliament, Labour veteran Diane Abbott had the honour yesterday of becoming the first black MP to represent his or her party at Prime Minister’s Questions. And she blew it, big time.
Despite the country being in turmoil over the Brexit shenanigans, the Shadow Home Secretary chose to open her account with a tribute to the black British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, then sat down without asking a question. As MPs chortled, a colleague told her: ‘Continue, quick!’
Ms Abbott, deputising for Jeremy Corbyn, quickly regained her feet to face Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, standing in for Boris Johnson who was delivering his speech to the Tory conference in Manchester.
So did she then move on to the pressing issues of the day? Er, no. In awkward, faltering words she demanded Boris apologise for his describing as ‘humbug’ complaints of online abuse against female MPs. It was a gift to Mr Raab, who swatted the question away like an annoying mosquito.
And worse was to come for the mathematically challenged Ms Abbott, who in 2017 suggested that the cost of 10,000 new police officers promised by Labour would be £30 each per year. Enjoy this video, it’s a hoot.
True to form, the member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington later lost count of her questions – she was allowed only six. As she approached the despatch box to ask a seventh, Speaker Bercow repeatedly shouted ‘order’ at her and added: ‘I believe I am right in saying that the shadow home secretary has had her six questions’. She beat a retreat to the sound of jeers and catcalls.
We can always count on Diane to get her sums wrong.