Saturday 22 July 2017

Here's what you missed at May and Corbyn's last PMQs before the election

By Catherine Wyatt

Theresa May showed off her slogan and Jeremy Corbyn brought back questions from the public.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have embarked on their final Prime Minister’s Questions before the General Election – and boy was it a corker.

Here’s what you missed:

1. Theresa May got good use out of her slogan.

Elections are usually rife with campaign slogans and catchy phrases politicians think will appeal to the electorate.

Remember George Osborne’s “long-term economic plan”? Well now Theresa May is going for a “strong and stable government” – and she wasn’t shy about using it.

The phrase was repeated multiple times over the course of PMQs.

She expanded on the theme, aiming a dig at Jeremy Corbyn when she said: “Every vote for him is a vote for a coalition of chaos, a weak leader propped up by the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish nationalists.

“Every vote for me is a vote for strong and stable leadership in the national interest.”

2. The economy became a thing again.

If you thought this election was 100% about Brexit and we had left the economic arguments of yore behind then you’d be mistaken.

Theresa May said: “What do we know about Labour? Only yesterday we saw that we had finally emerged from Labour’s economic crash.

“What we now see is a Labour Party that would do it again – crash the economy, more debt, more waste, higher taxes, fewer jobs. That does nothing for ordinary working families.”

However, recent figures show the national debt as a % of GDP has risen – whilst the Tories have succeeded in bringing government borrowing down to its lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis, the debt pile continues to grow.

The Conservatives had previously planned to eliminate the budget deficit – the gap between what revenue a government takes in and the amount it spends – over the course of one parliament, but the plan was scrapped.

3. It was the longest PMQs ever.

We all felt like it was really long, so it was nice to have confirmation that it actually was that long.

4. Jeremy Corbyn did that thing where he reads out people’s names again.

He read out questions from members of the public about the NHS, education, pensions and wages, noting this was different to “hand-picked audiences who can’t ask questions” the PM is used to dealing with.

When asking about pensions, Corbyn said: “If I were you I would listen to what Maureen has to say, I really would.”

But after an answer in which Theresa May spoke about the Conservatives’ economic competence, Corbyn failed to bring the Prime Minister back to the subject of pensions.

It was left to SNP politician Angus Robertson to push May on whether she would guarantee the pension triple lock, a system which ensures the state pension increases each year.

May refused to guarantee the lock, instead saying that pensioner incomes would continue to rise.

5. Then the Lib Dems got involved.

Tim Farron said of Theresa May: “Twenty years ago she berated the Conservative Party for being a nasty party, but her party has never been nastier.”

He also called Labour an “abject failure” of an opposition.

Of course this was all in addition to the jeering, cheering, applauding and general chaos of PMQs, marked by the occasional “Order! Order!” by speaker John Bercow.

Just a quiet one then.

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