That Theresa May ‘won’ Prime Minister’s Questions today, there is no doubt. Tory backbencher Simon Hoare said it was ‘game, set and match’ and few are likely to disagree with that summation of what took place in the Commons. Jeremy Corbyn was repeatedly left floundering throughout by a politician who showed that she means business. As James Forsyth says, the Labour benches looked even more fed-up than usual upon their realisation of just how effective an adversary May will be. But from the woman who famously coined the ‘nasty party’ term about the Tories, was there also a part of that moniker on display from the despatch box this afternoon? It certainly seemed that way.
Take this exchange with Tim Farron. Yes, you might say, as the leader of the Lib Dems, he’s arguably more of a rival than Corbyn is, given that he, at the very least, heads up a united party. Or you might just say that Tim Farron simply deserves it. Yet although their exchange was largely jovial, it’s hard not to see the sharp conclusion to her response as a bit out-of-order. Here’s what she said to Farron about their time spent campaigning in North West Durham in days gone by:
‘Little did the voters of North West Durham know that the unsuccessful candidates in that election would become leaders of two of this country’s political parties. Although as I would point out to the right honourable gentleman, my party’s a little bit bigger than his is.’
It could be first-time nerves which made May lash out more than she might otherwise have done. After all, the relief was clear on her face as soon as she took her seat at the end of the session. But just as her predecessor was caught out on occasions by flashes of anger in the Commons, it seems May will also have to rein in some of her character if she is to succeed in the role. Her ruthlessness might be an asset and today’s performance was certainly a demonstration of just how she has climbed to the top. But there’s also a danger that it could end up alienating others who would make worse enemies than the likes of Tim Farron.