Lloyd Evans Lloyd Evans

Jeremy Corbyn flops again at PMQs

People say Corbyn’s getting better. I wonder. He seemed out of touch today. Soaring employment, falling inflation, the booming stock-market, the Trump ascendancy, the implosion of Isis, the Aleppo siege? He ignored the lot. He brought up the exiled Chagos Islanders whose right to return has been denied for decades. Having mentioned them, and enjoyed a flush of reflected sanctity, he dropped the issue entirely. Poor old Chagos. Its scattered natives are used to being abandoned by false-friend statesmen but this seemed particularly cynical.

Corbyn’s main brainwave today was to deploy all his rhetorical skill, all his mastery of the political arts, to lure Mrs May into accidentally disclosing her red-lines on Brexit. Every one of them. In full. But inadvertently. Whoopsidaisy. Clumsy me. Slip-of-the-tongue kind of thing. This is why Corbyn’s not improving. He can’t learn from his mistakes. He may think he’s never made one

Mrs May told him that gossiping about the negotiations before the haggling begins would be ‘the best way to get the worst deal’. Easy score. Elegant phrase too.

Angus Robertson followed Corbyn’s failed raid with an identical assault on the same impregnable position. He quoted a report suggesting that panic and confusion are rife among the civil servants dealing with Brexit. Well, that’s Whitehall for you. Government departments are rammed to the ceilings with unimaginative, over-cautious, herd-thinking hazard-o-phobes. If you ask a group of civil servants to design a children’s slide you’ll get a varnished table-top half an inch off the ground with no gradient.

Mr Robertson wanted to skewer Mrs May on one sliver of policy. Would the UK remain in the customs union? ‘Yes or no?’ he quiveringly demanded.

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