This week saw the return of PMQs with the first session of 2016, where the hot topic was flood defences. Leonie Martin watched it so you don’t have to.
The first PMQs session of 2016 saw a solid performance from Jeremy Corbyn who managed to successfully pressure the PM on flood spending failures and claim a long-awaited victory at the dispatch box.
Corbyn, who refused to be thrown by Cameron’s cheap reshuffle jibes continually poked holes in the PM’s argument about the government’s flood defence spending record. The opposition leader even used the government’s own report from 2013 which alerted the PM to insufficient pumps at the Fosse barrier in York which was one of the worst hit places in the UK.
Typically, Cameron fired out his strong economy, strong leadership soundbites in defence, but fell short against Corbyn’s improved offense.
Issue of the week
The floods. Cameron made some reasonable points about the government’s spending record on flood defences, which has risen from £1.5bn under the Labour government to £2.3bn under the Conservatives, accrediting this (predictably) to a strong economy which has given them the ability to invest in the country where needed.
However, Cameron refused to answer Corbyn’s repeated questions on whether he would commit funding to places like Leeds, Cumbria and York who have seen their flood defence schemes rejected, postponed, cancelled or cut under the Tories.
Corbyn’s questions were strong, and his tone appropriate. He effectively shut down the Tory benches who were in the middle of laughing and jeering when he began a question involving a young couple from York who saw their house flooded over Christmas saying – ‘it wasn’t very funny for them’.
The Tories were itching for a mention of the Labour reshuffle this week and erupted in theatrical cheers at the first chance they got.
Chris Green, MP for Bolton West who gave a shout-out to the UK’s northern towns and their contribution to the Northern Powerhouse, which he implied is too often solely associated with northern cities.
Eventura, Microsoft Support Company and LLaborate, modern technological solutions providers were given as examples this week as companies who have both relocated and grown in Chris Green’s constituency of Bolton West, further strengthening the local economy.
Joke of the week
Nadhim Zahawi set the stage for a well-rehearsed Shakespeare gag from the PM in the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.
Cameron stated: ‘I find Shakespeare provides language for every moment, I mean just consider what we are thinking about now….there was a minute when it looked like Labours reshuffle could go into its ‘twelfth night’. It was a revenge reshuffle so it was going to be ‘as you like it’. I think though we can conclude that it has turned into something of a comedy of errors, perhaps… ‘much ado about nothing’.
In 140 characters
Corbyn secures the win in the first PMQs of 2016, but will anyone notice? #revengereshuffle