Lloyd Evans Lloyd Evans

The disastrous Zoom backgrounds of MPs at PMQs

Ed Davey asks a question at PMQs

That wasn’t PMQs. That was World Of Interiors. With members scattered across the country, the session took place in a sparse, hushed Chamber. Dominic Raab stood in for the Prime Minister and Keir Starmer made his first appearance as opposition leader. But this historic debut was eclipsed by MPs at home asking questions online.

This was an extraordinary day for the taxpayer who finally got to see the furnishings and ornaments selected by MPs.

First, the worst. Ed Davey needs an eye test. He appeared at a desk flanked by two luridly pigmented abstract paintings. One resembled a chess board with the squares coloured in at random, perhaps by a chimpanzee (or possibly by the owner). The other looked like a satellite image of crop-patterns in Idaho. Neither masterpiece would have detained a small child for longer than ten minutes.

Nick Fletcher tried to ask an important question about protective masks in the NHS. But his wallpaper drowned him out. Behind him, as he spoke, huge blue-grey swarms of vegetation seemed to spread across the wall in a chaotic proliferation of dark and light splotches. It’s no wonder he sounded angry. Emergency decorators are needed to spare him further distress. Might the army help?

Labour’s Ruth Cadbury was let down by her swivel-chair. Literally. She sat so low in her seat that she was cut off at the chin by her webcam. Her red lips spoke weirdly from the base of the screen.

Barry Gardiner, exquisitely turned out, had made all the right preparations for his noon appointment. The luxurious knot of his grey tie gleamed. His well-behaved beard was beautifully trimmed. You could almost smell the lavender deodorant in the air. Behind him a white sofa was visible with plumped-up cushions.

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