James Forsyth

PMQs unifies Tory MPs and weakens Jeremy Corbyn

PMQs unifies Tory MPs and weakens Jeremy Corbyn
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On Sunday at noon, few would have predicted that Tory MPs would have come out of PMQs cheered and unified. But thanks to The Times’ Sam Coates revealing this morning that the Labour leader’s office have ranked their MPs from core group to hostile, David Cameron won this session hands down and cheered up Tory MPs in the process.

Jeremy Corbyn had plenty of material of his own to work with, Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation letter should be a rich seam for Labour. But when Cameron started quoting the rankings at every turn, Corbyn — remarkably, given that his team had had all morning to come up with one — had no comeback. He was reduced to, rather pathetically, telling Cameron to leave the theatre. The Tory benches meanwhile were loving it. Cameron could even indulge in a bit of self-depreciation, joking ‘I thought I had trouble’ until he read that Corbyn’s chief whip is ranked as hostile to him.

Now, I’m sure that Corbyn’s defenders will say that all this is absurd, knock-about stuff unrelated to the lives of real people. But, for good or ill, this stuff matters in politics.

Today was a chance for Corbyn to put Cameron on the ropes after a few days which have seen a former Tory leader resign from the Cabinet, questioning the government’s whole approach. But he totally failed to do that. Indeed, he left the Chamber in a weaker position than when he entered it.