Andrew Gimson’s PMQ sketch: Zelensky makes a brilliant plea for fighter jets

Sniffer dogs, extra police, a flurry of last-minute preparations for VIP visitors, Ukrainian music blaring from Parliament Square in place of the usual satirical pop songs broadcast by our own tireless protesters, and an altogether more pathetic atmosphere for our statesmen. PMQs

Sir Keir Starmer spoke of being honored to be addressed by President Zelensky today, suggesting “we have always done our best work when we stood up to tyranny”, noting that “Labour helped found NATO” (Sarcastic words from the Tory bench (as he declared how dire Labor is now) and declared that we were “standing on the shoulders of giants that came before us” to support the fight in Ukraine.

A thought for a moment of sage Sunak standing on Boris Johnson’s shoulder.

Stephen Flynn, for the Scottish Nationalists, remembered Sunac’s immediate predecessor. He noted that Liz Truss “said she did not regret her time in office”, and asked: “Does the Prime Minister regret her time in office?”

“Mr. Speaker,” Sunak replied with a diplomatic smile, “I am grateful to all my predecessors for the contribution they made in public life.”

Flynn tried again: “Will he apologize for that?”

Sunak did not apologise, but distanced himself: “I said the first day I took over that there was a mistake.”

The press gallery emptied as people made their way to the packed Westminster Hall. Within minutes – a virtue of an event held at short notice is that there is usually little hanging around – Zelensky entered, the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Lord Speaker, Lord McFall, the Sergeant at Arms, Ugbana Wyatt and other dignitaries.

Zelensky looked down from the stairs at the end of the hall, bearded, modest, smiling, the mighty hammered roof above him, the sun pouring in through the huge south window behind him, grating on his head and shoulders, leaving dark bars of light and shadows on the steps.

Sir Lindsay recalled receiving Zelensky on 8 October 2020, a more peaceful time, for English afternoon tea with Chorley cake; And how Zelensky addressed the Commons via video link 13 days after the start of the war.

After another long reception, Zelensky began to speak of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, “all the countries that have been the home of brave souls since England’s existence” and himself “on behalf of the brave who are now in the trenches…those who reclaim the borders of Ukraine.” fighting for.”

How gracious of his hosts to see this way of touching on the British heroes of the past before he comes to the heroes of the present day.

He also spoke for “every father and every mother who is waiting for their brave sons and brave daughters to come home from war”. It’s hard to hold back tears thinking about that wait.

Churchill’s War Room, Churchill’s War Room, Churchill was invited by a guide to sit in an arm chair and asked how he was feeling.

Only now did Zelensky know the answer: “How bravery takes you through the most unimaginable hardships and finally rewards you with victory.”

That confidence to always win. “I thank you for your bravery,” he said, pointing to Boris Johnson, a blond figure in the crowd. Britain was “among the very few” who helped Ukraine before full-scale war broke out. “Thank you Sage,” he continued.

And he was about to have the honor of meeting the King:

“The king is an air force pilot, and every air force pilot in Ukraine today is a king.”

Long applause for this delightful phrase. He presented Sir Lindsay with a Ukrainian Air Force pilot’s helmet, bearing a handwritten inscription:

“We have freedom, give us wings to defend it.”

He had already thanked the speaker for the “delicious English tea”. Now he was “thanking you all in advance for the mighty English planes”.

A bright appeal for fighter jets on a bright winter day in February 2023.