This afternoon’s Prime Minister’s Questions began with jeering and booing as Boris Johnson faced MPs just minutes after Bury South MP Christian Wakeford announced his defection to Labour.

Johnson opened by explaining that he would update the House on the UK’s “fantastic progress” on Covid-19, which will allow restrictions to soon be eased and the nation’s “ancient liberties” restored.

Liberal Democrat MP Wendy Chamberlain directed the first question at the PM, accusing him of having “broken the rules” after previously affirming that “no parties” had taken place at No 10 during lockdown measures.

“There is no excuse for taking the British people for fools – will the Prime Minister agree with me it is time for him to resign?” she asked.

Mr Johnson reiterated the government’s line that “We must wait for the outcome of the inquiry” into the parties, attempting to hit back at Sir Keir by arguing that the UK “would have been in lockdown if you listen to the Labour frontbench in the run up to Christmas”.

“It’s because of the judgments that we have taken in Downing Street that we now have the fastest-growing economy, with GDP now back up above pre-pandemic levels.

He then went on to claim that the Conservatives would regain Wakeford’s red wall constituency of Bury South at the next general election under their “agenda of uniting and levelling up”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer opened his question with a spring in his step as he “warmly” welcomed “the honourable member for Bury South – Christian Wakeford – to the Parliamentary Labour Party”. 

“Like so many people up and down the country, he has concluded that the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party have shown themselves incapable of offering the leadership the country deserves, whereas the Labour Party stands ready.

“Anyone who wants to build a new Britain based on security, prosperity and decency is welcome in this party.”

Sir Keir blasted the PM for what  he described as “absurd and frankly unbelievable” excuses regarding the Downing Street gatherings, going on to quit that the government’s Chief Whip had instructed rowdy Conservative MPs to “bring their own booze”.

“First he said there were no parties, then the video landed blowing that defence out the water. Next he said he was sickened and furious when he found out about the parties, then it turned out he was at the Downing Street garden party. Then last week he said he didn’t realise he was at a party, and surprise, surprise no one believed him. So this week he’s got a new defence – nobody warned me that it was against the rules!”

The SNP’s leader in Westminster Ian Blackford joked that the PM’s ‘Operation Save Big Dog’ had quickly exacerbated into ‘Operation Dog’s Dinner’.

“In the past few days we’ve had more damaging revelation about Downing Street rule-breaking, more evidence that Parliament has been led and an even longer list of ludicrous excuses from the Prime Minister,” he said, accusing the PM of  “laughing at the British public”, he brands Mr Johnson’s latest reason “the most pathetic of them all – ‘nobody told me’. Nobody told the Prime Minister he was breaking his own rules, absolutely pathetic. Resign, go, Prime Minister!”