This week’s PMQs focused yet again on the NHS. Featuring an unlikely ‘dabbing’ incident in the Chamber, Alice Hawken watched it so you don’t have to…
Issue of the Week
With two by-elections looming, and the possibility of an historic Labour defeat, the pressure was on the Leader of the Opposition to perform in today’s PMQs. An ill-tempered debate from the get go, Corbyn returned to his favoured territory of the NHS and social care, resulting in some familiar exchanges between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister.
It was another missed opportunity for Corbyn as he failed to bring NHS issues into political relevance. The Copeland by-election is taking place tomorrow, where downgrade plans are imminent for the West Cumberland Hospital. Labour candidate Gillian Troughton named this the “number one issue on the doorstep”, with the hospital set to lose all maternity services to Carlisle (FT, 15.02.2017).
Corbyn instead took more of a scattergun approach towards the NHS – targeting nursing bursaries, failing A&E units and numbers of hospital beds. He was keen to point out that May’s government was responsible for ‘9 out of 10’ NHS trusts being deemed unsafe, a figure which the Prime Minister rebuked, explaining that 54% of hospital trusts were considered either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
Whilst the Opposition stumbled this week, the Prime Minister continued to rely on her familiar PMQs format – recalling Labour’s past failures. However, until Corbyn refreshes his line of attack, May has no need to change her formula.
Considering the widespread media coverage on business rates this week, Corbyn may have been better placed to press the Prime Minister on this issue, raised later in the debate by Green MP Caroline Lucas. In response to Lucas’ question, May announced there would be “appropriate relief” for firms that are “particularly adversely” affected by the business rates revaluation.
In a particularly disorderly session today, the Tories take the cake – rallying behind the Prime Minister at all times. However, Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson was caught “dabbing” (a celebratory dance move) after the final question…
Once again, Corbyn mentioned the alleged sweetheart deal for social care funding with Surrey County Council. May was quick to dissipate this argument, as these claims had been nullified following a previous PMQs session.
Michael Tomlison MP (Mid Dorset & North Poole), praised plans for thousands of street parties and baking competitions in memory of the late Jo Cox MP.
MP for Sutton, Paul Scully, asked the Prime Minister to congratulate Sutton Football club on their recent stint in the FA cup, referencing the recent media attention around #piegate. Earlier this week, Sutton United’s reserve team goalkeeper Wayne Shaw was caught eating a pie during half-time, resulting in the trending hashtag.