Alice Hawken’s got the scoop for a second week in a row. Here’s this week’s PMQs round up…
Issue of the Week
In a difficult week so far for Theresa May, in which she made a hugely significant but divisive call on Heathrow expansion, resulting in condemnation and a high profile resignation within her own party, some would have expected this to be the prevalent theme of this week’s PMQs but it was Brexit that dominated the agenda.
With the uncomfortable week May has had, worsened this morning by the Guardian’s leaked audio in which the PM laid out her economic argument for remaining in the EU pre-referendum, PMQs should have been a dreaded prospect for May. However, Corbyn failed to capitalise on the PM’s vulnerability by ignoring Heathrow; Zac Goldsmith’s resignation and the Guardian audio, instead focussing on Brexit. It was without doubt a missed opportunity.
Corbyn again pushed May for clarity on Brexit, specifically with regard to the Northern Ireland border. In no uncertain terms, Corbyn accused the PM of ‘dithering’ and creating a ‘chaotic and shambolic Brexit’. However, despite his pressing he was – perhaps unsurprisingly – unable to generate any new Brexit discussion, with May sticking firmly to her ‘Brexit means Brexit’ guns.
PMQs (once again) took a rather strange turn when Corbyn likened May to Blackadder character Baldrick: “Our cunning plan is to have no plan”, but as Leader of the Opposition he was unable to draw any new content from May. This was especially disappointing considering May’s pre-referendum comments in a meeting with Goldman Sachs, as exposed by the Guardian today. Corbyn was stronger with a question on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, dubbing the country’s war with Yemen ‘the forgotten crisis’. By using a letter from the member of the public to raise the issue, it showed a sharp contrast to May’s cold tone towards the issue. However, with so many missed opportunities by Corbyn, May was the winner this week.
The Tories rallied round their leader today and were the liveliest party by a long way, especially when May effectively rebuffed Corbyn’s Baldrick comment…
..which leads to best joke of the week, which came when May swatted away Corbyn’s comparison of her to Baldrick by responding: “Wasn’t he a member of the Labour Party?”. Tony Robinson, who played the iconic Baldrick, is the real winner, however, when he tweeted:
Baldrick means Baldrick #pmqs
— Tony Robinson (@Tony_Robinson) October 26, 2016
Growth and the economy of the West Midlands was raised with multiple mentions of ongoing infrastructure projects in the region. May used her answers to plug former John Lewis boss and upcoming mayoral candidate for Birmingham, Andy Street. Additionally, Jeremy Lefroy MP mentioned the industrial behemoth, General Electric, even asking the PM to commit to meeting with the company.
Much like last week, mental health was an issue that once again May was grilled on. However, no one did this as effectively as Karl Turner, who brought the issue home by telling the house about his nephew who struggled with mental health before committing suicide last year.
Summary in 140 characters
Solid but uninspiring win for May. Corbyn missed a trick by pressing on Brexit without raising TMs leaked Goldman comments or Heathrow #pmqs