What we learned at this week's PMQs

The Prime Minister couldn't provide much more detail on vaccine distribution, and the other things we learned at this week's Prime Minister's Questions.

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We didn't learn much more about the detail of vaccine distribution

PMQs was a mostly muted affair this week, with a focus from the Labour leader on detailed, factual questions about practicalities for the distribution of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which is to begin next week. Despite the constructive tone of these exchanges, we gained very little new information from Keir Starmer's questions. Boris Johnson didn't get into the granular detail of who, exactly, the 400,000 people to receive the earliest doses will be – a question worth asking given that, as Starmer pointed out, together the top-priority groups of care home residents and their carers comes to a much larger number. The Prime Minister also didn't expand on the logistical arrangements for transporting the vaccine, which has to be stored at -70 degrees, beyond reassurances that the government is working on it with the NHS across the UK.

Labour wants the government to introduce emergency legislation to tackle anti-vax misinformation

Starmer reiterated Labour's calls for financial and criminal penalties for social media companies that fail to censor posts promoting anti-vaccination content, and asked the Prime Minister to introduce emergency legislation on the issue. Johnson didn't address that particular point, but promised a forthcoming government paper on online harms. 

Johnson has a new name for Starmer

The Prime Minister made Labour's choice to abstain on last night's vote on tiered coronavirus restrictions for England a running theme of PMQs, declaring that "Captain Hindsight" has become "General Indecision", to much laughter from his back benches. Given that the Prime Minister always has the last word in the exchange with the leader of the opposition, he managed to paint the Labour leader as unsupportive, accusing him of giving MPs "an injunction to dither", while Starmer wasn't able to expand on Labour's reasons for abstaining. 

Ailbhe Rea is political correspondent at the New Statesman.

She co-hosts the New Statesman podcast, discussing the latest in UK politics.

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