On Wednesday 12 October, at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) Jeremy Corbyn criticised Prime Minister Theresa May for pursuing a “shambolic Tory Brexit” to appease her right wing backbenchers.
In a heated PMQs, Corbyn quoted May’s own words when she warned of the “risk of a loss of investors and business” if Britain left the single market. He also reminded the PM that before becoming the new leader of the Conservative Party, she also warned that such move would “risk going backwards”.
Corbyn then called out potential “Brexit Mayhem”, as the Tories have no real plan for negotiating our exit of the EU.
He told PMQs:
“This is a government that drew up no plans for Brexit, that now has no plan for negotiating Brexit. The jobs and incomes of millions of our people are at stake”.
Corbyn then launched his best line against May’s lack of Brexit strategy and said that the PM had:
“no strategy for negotiating Brexit and offers no clarity, no transparency and no chance of scrutiny of the process for developing a strategy”.
Meanwhile, he said, it was “worrying” to see the pound falling.
But May failed to say whether she would stay in the single market, and in fact went in the other direction, saying that there should be “maximum possible access for firms to the European market”, but the government must respect the Brexit vote.
In other words, May simply refused to give any indication on what she intends to do once she triggers Article 50 in March, and the Brexit negotiations start.
Corbyn also asked if “the Prime Minister [was] really willing to risk a shambolic Tory Brexit just to please the people behind her?”
As always with the PM, every time she is on the defensive she tries to attack Labour on its policies. On Wednesday, she questioned Labour’s own European stance and what the party thinks of the Brexit result:
“Labour didn’t want a referendum. We gave one. Labour didn’t like the result. We are listening and delivering on that result. The Shadow Foreign Secretary wants a second vote. I would have thought Labour MPs would have learnt their lesson. You can ask the question but you will still get the answer you don’t want.”
As the pound gets weaker and weaker, and the early signs of an economic slowdown are materialising, the PM should have found a better way to answer the serious questions asked by the leader of the opposition.
Kevin Maguire quite rightly said that Corbyn has exposed May’s vacuity on Brexit’s economic fallout:
Jeremy Corbyn confident, relaxed, reinvigorated. Exposed Theresa May's vacuity on Brexit economic fallout. Won that bout #PMQs
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) October 12, 2016
Labour MP Wes Streeting was quite disappointed by May’s lack of professionalism. Yes, Brexit is a serious matter, Prime Minister:
Good gags from Theresa May, but nobody's laughing at her failure to answer the serious questions posed by Jeremy Corbyn #PMQs
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) October 12, 2016
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner also noticed the lack of professionalism from the PM:
Theresa May has the worse #PMQs today, bad jokes, divisive rhetoric and no answers to very serious questions from MPs across the house 😞
— Angela Rayner MP (@AngelaRayner) October 12, 2016
But more worrying for May, was that even the Telegraph found that Corbyn was winning the argument on Brexit:
#PMQs – the verdict
Jeremy Corbyn came out on top at this week's PMQs. It's fair to say he had a spring in his step today.
— Telegraph Politics (@TelePolitics) October 12, 2016
Overall it was a good performance from Corbyn. He has exposed May’s shambolic Brexit plan (is there even a plan, anyway?) by asking serious questions of the PM.
But all we have learned today from the May is that she has refused to commit keeping Britain in the single market, but she hasn’t still explained what “Brexit would really mean” – and this is deeply worrying.