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PMQs Sketch: Policy pay, child poverty, and Brexit

13 September 2017

4:44 PM

13 September 2017

4:44 PM

The news was bad at PMQs today. Gosh, it was terrible. Layla Moran started by announcing that Brexit would jeopardise thousands of jobs in Abingdon and wreck the local economy. Theresa May told her to stop spooking the voters with imaginary pessimism. ‘It’s what they’re telling me!’ shouted Ms Moran.

Daniel Zeichner said the scourge of Brexit had now reached Cambridge. Migrants are fleeing in droves. University kitchens are without staff. Pubs are closing for lack of barmaids. Awful isn’t it? No hot dinners for dons. No tankards of goodly ale foaming in the city’s taverns. Mrs May urged him to ask businesses to train new staff.

Mr Corbyn joined in. He complained about police pay, zero hours contracts, student debt, child poverty and the appalling eating habits of nurses. Every week he bleats about the iniquities of Toryism but today he touched new depths of gloom. In Mr Corbyn’s world, every job is a crime against an individual’s liberty. Every wage is compromised by reliance on benefits. Every savings account is empty. Every midwife is ready to quit. Every nurse eats at a food-bank. Every child faces a lifetime of penury whose only escape is death by neglect on a hospital trolley. This view of the national character is so malign that it borders on cultural defamation. The idea that a British citizen might get promoted, or learn a new skill, or raise extra cash using his brains or his initiative never occurs to Labour’s Captain Calamity. Or perhaps it does and he fears its consequences: loss of votes for his coalition of the dismal.

A lot of MPs today were sporting a Y-shaped ear of wheat on their lapels. It looked like a two-fingered salute. The eff-off sign is the symbol of British Farming Day which encourages townies like me to learn about rural issues. A great idea. But just as we were Googling ‘the country code’ and ‘cute badgers’ we were diverted by a fresh preoccupation. Mike Wood told us that today is National Sepsis Day. Sepsis nearly killed him and each year it threatens 260,000 of us so it easily outdoes Farming Day as an object of concern. However, today is also Roald Dahl Day. And we’ve just cleared up after Samosa Day. And we’re readying ourselves for Step-family Day, World Alzheimers Day (don’t forget that one) and Bisexuality Day. It’s an epidemic. Help, somebody. We need a Royal Commission of Enquiry into Anniversaries to co-ordinate all these rites of celebration and promotion. History tells us that Royal Commissions usually take a decade or more to report so the Commission itself will merit an annual knees-up in Whitehall with bureaucrats gathering to glug back Prosecco and exchange goodwill messages written on foolscap and bound in red-tape.

There was an odd moment at the end. Newish member, Nigel Huddleston, got to his feet looking very pleased with his marvellous brunette quiff. He delivered this verdict on women members of parliament. ‘It’s an honour,’ he said, ‘to work alongside talented female MPs each day.’ Even males found this a bit condescending.

Mrs May replied that the Tories deserve lots of credit for having so many female MPs. But it’s the electors who do the electing. As for the Tories themselves, they have a questionable record when it comes to female prime ministers. They nobbled the first and they’re busy plotting to knife the second.

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