Missed PMQs for some last minute Christmas shopping? Not to worry, have a read of Sam Postlethwaite’s executive summary.
Issue of the week
Jeremy Corbyn dedicated his questioning this week to the issue of homelessness, tying the wider topic of working class community neglect to the six-month anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy.
Corbyn tried repeatedly to have May guarantee a reduction in homelessness from 2018, however the Prime Minister avoided making a direct pledge by citing the £500m the Government are investing in tackling the issue, while pointing to Labour’s own record: namely that housebuilding went down 45% under the previous Labour government while statutory homelessness peaked.
May ended the exchange fiercely by declaring that Corbyn will take away the right to buy from those living in council homes and highlighting that Shelter has warned Labour’s rent plan will increase homelessness.
Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition effectively drew upon an arsenal of statistics at the dispatch box, making it difficult to appoint a true victor. With 250,000 predicted to be without a roof this Christmas, Corbyn was smart to flag homelessness as a pressing matter in modern society, however he was unable to nail May to a specific pledge or even sufficiently rouse his own backbenches.
Corbyn came equipped with some alarming indictments of the Conservative government – such as the fact that rough sleeping has risen every year since 2010 – however the Prime Minister did an effective job of exposing the inadequacies of Labour’s own policies on housing. It’s hard to conclude anything other than a stalemate.
Indignant head-shaking was perhaps the rowdiest development in today’s PMQs, with the session proving to be a lot more subdued than the previous few. Anna Soubry did not appear too impressed by the Prime Minister’s inference that ‘rebel’ Tory MPs were endangering a “smooth and orderly” Brexit, while the Chancellor was equally affronted by Caroline Lucas’ alleged mischaracterization of remarks he made about disabled peoples’ impact on UK productivity levels.
On the topic of Lord Kerslake’s resignation over funding problems for King’s College Hospital, the Prime Minister commented that it was, “perhaps no surprise that noble Lord Kerslake is advising the Labour party on matters of debt and deficit”.