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GIMSON Andrew Krieg

She showed no mercy. The Prime Minister had come with stones to chuck at Jeremy Corbyn, and chuck them she did.

As he asked her about housing, she dragged in an extraneous reference to a Twitter user who had pointed out, in response to a request from the Labour leader for questions to ask, that Don’t Know scores higher in opinion polls than Jeremy Corbyn.

Like a boy in the playground who has no idea how to defend himself, and is not on the same wavelength as the other children, he went on asking her about housing.

So May chucked another handful of stones at him which, in the manner of Valerie Singleton on Blue Peter, she had prepared earlier. These were about the railways, and alluded to the recent unfortunate occasion when Corbyn opted, for part of the journey, to sit on the floor, despite seats being available.

“Even on rolling stock they’re a laughing stock!” the Prime Minister declared.

By now we longed for Corbyn to chuck something back at her. He must think she deserves it. But he tells himself he will get credit for sticking to the subject. He will show he is the serious one, and he will end up occupying the moral high ground.

His courtiers no doubt assure him this strategy will pay off, but it won’t. In adversarial politics – the system for which the Commons is built – however moral you are, you have to be prepared to throw some rocks too.

Angus Robertson did rather better for the Scottish Nationalists, by asking “a very, very simple question: does she want the UK to remain fully part of the European single market?”

May is not yet ready to answer that question, so informed him, with some hauteur, that “it would not be right for me or the government to give a running commentary” on the Brexit negotiations.

Bernard Jenkin (Con, Harwich and North Essex) caused much murmuring by declaring: “I feel more confident about the future of the country than ever in my life.”

Jenkin is a long-standing Eurosceptic, and speaks for many others when he says he looks forward to Brexit with confidence. The Eurosceptics are in the ascendant. David Cameron, who tried to thwart them by holding the referendum, has instead himself been thwarted by the voters.

The Labour Party, which likewise backed the losing side, is in a position to threaten only its own existence. The Eurosceptics have won a famous and unexpected victory, and they still feel pretty good about  it.

32 comments for: Andrew Gimson’s Commons sketch: May shows Corbyn no mercy

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