James Forsyth

Theresa May wipes the floor with Jeremy Corbyn at her first PMQs

Theresa May wipes the floor with Jeremy Corbyn at her first PMQs
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Theresa May was utterly brutal with Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs today. She mocked the Labour leader repeatedly, leaving the Tory benches delighted and the Labour benches looking more miserable than ever.

Once again, Corbyn’s problem was his inability to think on his feet. He asked May about Boris Johnson saying that some of Barack Obama’s view came from him being ‘part-Kenyan’ and his use of the word ‘piccaninnies’. May didn’t defend the new Foreign Secretary, instead choosing to answer a different bit of Corbyn’s question. But the Labour leader failed, as he so often does, to properly follow up on this.

Corbyn then walked into a trap. He asked May about job insecurity, which allowed her to deliver a little comedy routine about how Labour MPs might know an unscrupulous boss who doesn’t listen to his workers and exploits the rules for his own benefit. She then leaned on the despatch box, and asked Corbyn, ‘remind you of anyone?’ The comic timing was perfect and the Tory benches cheered her to the rafters.

In policy terms, the most telling bit of the session came when the Eurosceptic Tory Edward Leigh asked her to rule out the UK staying in the ‘single regulated market’. May wished him a happy birthday, but notably did not rule that out. She also talked about ‘controls’ on free movement not ending it. Now, many in Westminster argue that EEA membership allows you to ‘control’ free movement as you could demand that those moving to the UK have a job.