James Forsyth

Jeremy Corbyn lets Theresa May off the hook again at PMQs

Jeremy Corbyn lets Theresa May off the hook again at PMQs
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Today’s PMQs could have been a tricky affair for Theresa May. Her decision on Heathrow has seen one Tory MP resign his seat and the Guardian’s story about a private speech she gave to Goldman Sachs during the EU referendum campaign clashes with her conference speech rhetoric about being the scourge of unaccountable global elites. But May got through the session fine, Heathrow wasn’t raised until well after 12.30 and no one mentioned her behind closed doors, Goldman's address.

Corbyn’s delivery at PMQs has improved. But he still can’t go through the gears. He started off using the frustration of the devolved First Minister following their meeting with May on Monday to attack her lack of a Brexit plan. But he then let his questions drift on to vague musings on the question of the Irish border and the customs union which allowed May off the hook. If Corbyn had asked her how many other private speeches she had given to banks and other financial institutions that would have been potent populism.  

For his final few questions, Corbyn asked about Saudi Arabia and human rights. May, though, is always comfortable on her former Home Office turf and so turned into a question on the broader security arrangement with Saudi. 

As so often at PMQs, the question that gave May the most pause in answering came from the SNP’s Angus Robertson. He asked her to urge the Spanish government not to refuel the Russian fleet that is heading to Syria. May dodged the question, but later her spokeswoman said afterwards that the Government has raised concerns with Spain.

In a sign of how keen the Tories are to help their Birmingham Mayoral candidate Andy Street, there were two questions about the West Midlands—which enabled May to repeatedly plug his candidacy. On the opposition side, the theme of the session was mental health provision with three Labour backbenchers asking her about the issue.