Google and a man called “Geoff” were high on the agenda in this week’s PMQs. Josh Lambkin reports.
Draw: Corbyn’s decision to go on Google’s tax deal with the UK treasury was the right one but his failure to inflict a critical blow enabled Cameron to launch a counterattack over the previous Labour government’s record – an argument which could have been easily neutralised.
Issue of the week
The Treasury’s tax deal which saw Google make a payment of £130 million was clearly the issue of the week. Corbyn did also ask a question on the ‘bedroom tax’ and the UK’s support for Saudi Arabian military operations but ultimately these came to nothing more than a distraction. Google’s tax payment is clearly a weakness for this Conservative government and this morning’s news that the Italian government is seeking a far higher payment (in percentage terms) reveals this negotiation to be comparatively feeble. However, Corbyn’s failure to signpost the deals being sought in Italy and France exemplifies his inability to inject venom into his questioning.
The most striking aspect of today’s exchange however – and one that is becoming entirely characteristic of PMQs – is the spectacle of Corbyn walking obliviously into a trap. Cameron’s strategy was clear: compare the Tory government’s record on corporation tax to that of the previous Labour government and then force Corbyn to defend New Labour. As a man whose support is based almost entirely on his rejection of the Blair/Brown years, it should have been easy for Corbyn to confront this argument but instead he chose to simply reiterate his original point. Today’s performance is a perfect demonstration of Corbyn’s proficiency at PMQs and his inability to spot a trap when it is laid for him.
Nusrat Ghani (Conservative MP for Wealden) asked what looked like a placed question on the legal sector profiting from fabricated claims against war veterans – an important and topical issue showing her desire to make a name for herself within the party.
The Holocaust Memorial Trust was referenced by all party leaders in their opening remarks demonstrating cross-party support for Holocaust Memorial day which falls today.
Corbyn’s ‘question from the public’ this week was from a man called Geoff (or is it Jeff?). This led to both leaders bandying the name around in the chamber – something which seemed to amuse twitter far more than anyone in parliament.
Corbyn going with Google’s tax bill is a good move but if he can’t make this work then he’s in serious trouble #pmqs