Romantic films of a certain vintage tend to follow a ‘will-they-won’t-they’ trope. 

The narrative arc is simple: our two protagonists meet, fall out, but soon warm to one another’s foibles. 

By the end, they realise they’re made for each other. Cue syrupy violins. Credits 

There was a similar frisson running through PMQs today when Boris Johnson did battle with Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, who was standing in after Sir Keir Starmer tested positive yet again with Coronavirus. 

Johnson v Rayner makes for an interesting match. The Etonian is the more affluent side. He has little regard for himself. 

On the other, the scrappy street fighter with the mouth like a Gatling gun and a terrifying range in footwear. 

Hostesses would tend to set aside their most sharp cutlery if they were next to each others at a luncheon. 

'Where once she might have scowled, Rayner now barely bothers to disguise how much she’d like to topple Starmer from his perch'

‘Where once she might have scowled, Rayner now barely bothers to disguise how much she’d like to topple Starmer from his perch’

Their face-off turned out to be a lot of fun, despite their differences. The PM clearly admired his opponent’s gumption. 

Ms Rayner seemed to also enjoy the joust. She won’t thank me for saying so, but away from the battlefield she is nothing like the hateful creature she likes to portray. 

Being Parliament’s first day back, we had a delayed kick-off at 3pm. Maggie T was in office the last time I saw a PMQs so late. 

Ange got up early for some last minute packing. She’d dispensed with the bovver boots in favour of some elegant black heels. This flirty dress had a daringly slit to the thigh. A string of pearls was hung around her neck. 

Boris, meanwhile, hovered behind the Speaker’s chair, his PPS Sarah Dines (Derbyshire Dales) dusting his shoulders free of dandruff.  

The inner sanctuary was covered by Rishi Sunak and Saj Javid. Liz Truss? You are nowhere to be seen. Plotting in 5 Hertford Street (an exclusive members’ club) over gin cocktails, possibly.

'Boris too, was enjoying himself. The Christmas break appears to have revived him'

Boris, too was having a good time. It seems that he has been revived after the Christmas break.

Rayner carefully focused her attention on the rising cost of living, flicking her hair confidently and smiling confidently. The PM’s vindicated decision not to introduce tougher restrictions against Labour’s urging had left opposition MPs awkwardly sucking their gums. 

Boris opened by welcoming Rayner, or ‘shadow secretary of state for the future of work’ as he referred to her. 

‘We know the future job that she has in mind!’ he joked. 

Laughter. Rayner even allowed herself to smirk a bit. Where once she might have scowled, she now barely bothers to disguise how much she’d like to topple Starmer from his perch. 

Ange reached for the dispatcher box with a coquettish smile. Unashamed. Unabashed. 

‘Maybe I should have aspirations,’ she purred. 

A collective ‘whaoooo’ went up from the Tory benches. These were their favorite part of the day.

'This was so much more fun than Sir Smartypants’s weekly whines. After Rayner sat down, the session slumped'

‘This was so much more fun than Sir Smartypants’s weekly whines. The session ended when Rayner fell asleep.

Boris, too was having a good time. He seems to be feeling rejuvenated after the Christmas break. 

As Rayner tackled him over rising energy costs, he replied: ‘She talks about energy – she’s got a lot more energy than the current leader of the opposition!’ 

Coworkers echoed their admiration. This was so much more fun than Sir Smartypants’s weekly whines. Rayner settled down and the session fell apart. 

The SNP’s Ian Blackford also abandoned his fire and brimstone Covid predictions and went about on the cost of living. 

He complained families would be £1,200 worse off come April. A mere ‘roll of wallpaper to the Prime Minister’, he sniffed, but for most families ‘catastrophic’. 

Boris pointed out that such lectures were hard to accept ‘from a humble crofter’. 

Background: ‘Humble crofter’ Blackford made squillions in the City. His life is not spartan. 

Ed Balls was called by the Speaker. ‘Er, Ed Davey,’ he spluttered, correcting himself. Poor Sir Ed. He is not even household name in his house. Blathering on about heating costs, he claimed that millions of people will be hungry or frozen this year. 

Boris motioned to the Speaker’s chair. 

‘Balls was the word,’ he nodded. Sir Lindsay laughed and leaned forward, laughing with laughter. 

Rayner brought up a point of order after the session ended. He claimed that Boris was less truthful than he had previously stated about inflation. He did as he does in these situations and ran for the exit. 

He was half way to freedom when the Speaker reminded him – eek! – he still had a statement on Covid to make. Angela’s lip curled, delighted at the PM’s discomfiture. 

Sir Keir is eager to be back on time next week.