Today should have been a good PMQs for Jeremy Corbyn. He had the chance to denounce Donald Trump and embarrass Theresa May over his actions, as Prime Minister she is—obviously—constrained in what she can say about the US president. But May had come well prepared and ended up besting Corbyn. She hit at his fundamental weakness, when she declared ‘he can lead a protest, I’m leading the country’.
Perhaps, the most substantive moment of the session came when Corbyn asked for a guarantee that the NHS wouldn’t be opened up to US companies as part of a US / UK trade deal. May replied, ‘The NHS is not for sale’. This reflects the government’s confidence that the US will be prepared to agree to a public services exemption in a US / UK trade deal which would mean the NHS would not be covered by the agreement.
But what the Tory benches most enjoyed was the chance to barrack Tim Farron. It all started when Peter Bone pointed out that for all the Lib Dem demands for more time for debate on Brexit, they weren’t there last night when the Article 50 bill was being debated on the floor of the House. The Speaker then called Farron who was met with repeated cries of ‘Where were you?’. The Lib Dem leader did manage to get his question out, but his position was rather undermined by his absence last night.