Katy Balls

Jeremy Corbyn misses open goal at PMQs

Jeremy Corbyn misses open goal at PMQs
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The government's decision to announce a U-turn on the planned rise in Class 4 National Insurance contributions minutes before PMQs meant that Jeremy Corbyn was left with the wrong homework for the session. Still, presented with an embarrassing government climbdown on a key Budget pledge, surely Corbyn could still come out on top?

It wasn't to be. Instead the Labour leader stumbled around for things to say in one of his worst performances to date. Corbyn began by offering May an easy pot shot when he accused her of leading a government in chaos. The Prime Minister responded with an effective -- if predictable -- retort that while she usually does not take lectures from Corbyn, she would allow him to lecture her this one time thanks to his expertise on the subject.

With that, May was back on the front foot and Corbyn was left scrambling around for things to say -- even using one question to go off-piste and ask about education. Still, perhaps it's wrong to criticise the questions too heavily seeing as four of the six didn't even qualify -- they were just statements. Explaining Corbyn's performance after the session, the Labour leader's spokesman said Jeremy had 'tried to do it in a different way to other political leaders'.

The SNP's Angus Robertson was more effective (and also managed to ask a question). Robertson said Britain had once had a Prime Minister who said she was not for turning but that this one clearly is -- with 'a screeching U-turn'. However, it was Yvette Cooper who offered the most effective opposition today with a question on the omNICshambles that left May visible uncomfortable. She asked if the reason the government wants to abolish spring budgets is that they just keep ripping them up? The stinging remark led the now morose Labour benches to sit up and shout: 'more!'.

It was a question that managed to combine wit with fact -- a feat few still believe the Labour leader is capable of. Forget Corbyn having the answers, today's performance showed that he doesn't even have the questions.

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor. She is also a columnist for the i paper.

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Topics in this articlePoliticsjeremy corbynpmqs