PMQs, possibly the worst thing about British politics, returned today.
At Westminster they’re back and it was time today for questions to the Prime Minister. The main topic was Brexit, naturally. But the exchange was bookended by Theresa May calling Corbyn out on the anti-semitism scandal.
Corbyn largely ignored her anti-semitism remarks and used all of his questions to talk about Brexit, most notably the increasingly likely potential of a no-deal scenario.
He started by quoting Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary, who said the chance of a no deal Brexit was 60/40. So was Dr Fox right? He asked. She said that the government was working to “get a good deal with the European Union” but also emphasised the importance of preparing for all eventualities. She said there were plans for a no deal situation, and that her government will keep working on those plans until it becomes clear what the outcome of negotiations will be.
She twice asked Corbyn to rule out the possibility of a second referendum, which he didn’t.
He continued his line of questioning by pointing to her fractious cabinet: “The Chequers proposal is dead, already ripped apart by her own MPs, when will the prime minster publish a real plan that survives contact with her cabinet and reality and protects jobs,” he asked.
May admirably but certainly not truthfully insisted that it was all going to plan.
Corbyn rounded off by asking about businesses leaving Britain because of Brexit, off the back of the latest announcement from Panasonic. The Prime Minister responded by listing businesses that had “shown confidence in our economy.”
This exchange crystallised the ultimate futility of the whole endeavour. She lists companies that are showing faith in Britain, Corbyn lists ones that aren’t. No analysis or insight was offered by either, and while they dressed up the conversation to look like “point then counter point” all they did was list different companies at each other. Hardly very edifying.
This formulaic conversational tennis tells us nothing; and add in the predictable jeers from the backbenchers and two profoundly average parliamentarians talking past each other for 10 minutes it really makes you wonder: What is the point?
But, in a move that was jarringly out of character, Corbyn told a joke that was actually funny: “She cannot keep dancing around all the issues” he said, referring to the recent clips of the Prime Minister dancing awkwardly on her trip to Africa. But then he snapped straight back into character by reformulating the exact same joke about 10 seconds later and ruining it for everyone.
This week neither came out on top. Corbyn and May drew again, seemingly engaged in a race to the bottom over who can be worse at the whole thing. We, the voters, are the losers.