PMQs scorecard: Starmer cracks dad jokes about Elgin Marbles as Sunak squirms

Prime minister’s questions: a shouty, jeery, very occasionally useful advert for British politics. Here’s what you need to know from the latest session in POLITICO’s weekly run-through.

What they sparred about: A bumper week for the speech writers … and a dire week for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. With record-high immigration numbers, a big diplomatic dispute with Greece, and embarrassing COVID inquiry revelations providing more jabs than a boxing match, the Conservative leader was on the ropes, while the leader of the opposition rubbed his hands in glee.

Politicians trying to be funny klaxon: In his opening remarks, Keir Starmer dug into the big bust-up between London and Athens over the Elgin Marbles this week. “In an effort to hide from his failures, the prime minister spent this week arguing about an ancient relic that only a tiny minority of the British public have any interest in. But that’s enough about the Tory party.” The house went wild! 

That’s enough: Starmer also said the prime minister “lost his marbles.” We haven’t heard that one before…

Careful: He’s on a roll! Starmer said everything Sunak touches “turns to …” and in trying to find the right word, pointed at Home Secretary James Cleverly for some help. Cleverly’s been embroiled in his own row over whether he called a northern town a “sh*thole” or just branded its local MP “sh*t.” What a time to be alive.

Going Greek: Starmer got to be all smug about his own meeting this week with the Greek premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis, telling Sunak that the pair discussed the “economy, security, and immigration.” Starmer also said he had told Mitsotakis the U.K. wouldn’t change the law regarding the return of the marbles to Greece. “It’s not that difficult prime minister,” he jibed.

Totally non-scientific scores on the doors: Like many men of a certain age, today’s PMQs suggested the leader of the opposition wants to try his hand at stand-up comedy.

Starmer gets a 7/10 because some of the jokes were (say it quietly, we mustn’t encourage him) funny — but is that really the point of this weekly scrutiny session? Sunak gets a 4/10 for at least making it through to the end.