Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Has Jeremy Corbyn forgotten how to ask a proper question at PMQs?

Jeremy Corbyn’s questions at PMQs weren’t so much a dog’s dinner as a miserable casserole of leftovers. The Labour leader didn’t appear to have bothered to craft the lines he delivered from the dispatch box. This meant that the questions he asked the Prime Minister were rambling, and strangely managed to continue long after the actual question had been asked. Take this example:

‘Mr Speaker, I support a wage rise, obviously, the point I am making is that it is not a living wage! It is not a living wage, as is generally understood. Um, Mr Speaker, ummm, saying yes seems to be one of the hardest words for the Prime Minister. For a third time, could he just say whether he does or does not support the posting of workers’ directive? He might be aware that Patrick Minford, a former economic adviser to Margaret Thatcher, said that the European Union has had a negative effect on the City of London, and he would want the shackles of European regulation removed. Does the Prime Minister believe that membership hurts the City of London, or does he believe that European Union regulation of the finance sector in Britain and British administered tax havens would help the sort of bad practice exposed by the Panama Papers, or underlined by my friend in his earlier question today?’

Where to start with that? Cameron could basically pick and choose, as Labour MPs behind Corbyn winced and looked at the ceiling. The Labour leader hopped around from the living wage to the posting of workers’ directive to whether Britain should accept more unaccompanied child refugees, and only scored one little hit, which was in pointing out that Tory MEPs have voted against country-by-country tax reporting.

The session was baffling, with more pressure on the Prime Minister coming from backbenchers such as Jess Phillips, who pleaded with the Prime Minister to exempt women’s refuges from housing benefit cuts.

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