With the regulars elsewhere, there were new faces at the dispatch box today – Alice Hawken watched PMQs so you don’t have to.
Issue of the Week
With Prime Minister Theresa May away in Bahrain this week, it was down to Leader of the House of Commons, David Lidington, to step up to the dispatch box where he found himself opposite Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. The move by Jeremy Corbyn, to pick Thornberry over deputy leader Tom Watson has widely been described as a snub…However, snub or no snub the issue of the week was undoubtedly Brexit.
Despite different faces at the dispatch box, the debate was all too familiar. Following her opening remarks Thornberry was quick to bring Brexit to the forefront of PMQs.
Thornberry was robust in her questioning on whether the Government wanted the UK to remain part of the customs union, a line of questioning she doggedly pursued in her attempts to pressure Lidington to provide clarification. Thornberry was also keen to remind Lidington of his disparaging comments about a potential vote to leave made in February last year, something that Lidington dismissed with ease, reminding his counterpart in turn that a rather important referendum had taken place since then.
As expected, Lidington was well versed in Government lines, repeating that it would damage the national interests of the UK if the Government revealed too much detail about its Brexit plans.
Thornberry did demonstrate a strong and robust line of questioning; she focussed on one subject and kept to it – proving her doubters wrong. She was not however successful in teasing out any new information from a reliable Lidington. Result – Thornberry edges it.
The Tories once again take this one – Speaker of the House John Bercow was forced to intervene multiple times in this week’s PMQs, particularly when the SNP’s Angus Robertson was speaking.
Not a rich selection, but this week it goes to Andrew Bridgen (Con, North West Leicestershire) who advised his party to take no advice from the opposition as “they only have one card to play and its always the joker!”
The chaos caused for commuters was highlighted by Sir Peter Bottomley (Con, Worthing West), who criticised the RMT union for its ongoing industrial action on Southern Rail.
The star of this week’s PMQs was not an MP but a 90 year old nurse called Kitty Hart-Moxon. Bob Blackman (Con, Harrow East), told Kitty’s story: an Auschwitz survivor who moved to the UK to raise awareness of the Holocaust. Blackman paid tribute to her work, eliciting rare applause from across the whole House.