In the last few weeks, we have got used to Jeremy Corbyn getting the better of Theresa May at PMQs. But today, May had the upper hand in their exchanges. Now, this isn’t because the political weather has suddenly changed—May has lost two Cabinet Ministers already this month and a third, who happens to be her closest political ally, remains under Cabinet Office investigation. So, what’s the explanation for the improvement in her performance? Well, I think it’s that Corbyn’s first question was on May’s old Home Office turf. When May talks about her old brief she sounds and looks far more confident than on any other subject.
The confidence that flowed from that first answer kept May going through the rest of their exchanges. At the end, Tory MPs shouted ‘more, more’ and actually meant it.
May was strikingly more political than she has been in recent weeks. When Corbyn said that the Budget should, post-Grenfell, provide money for retro-fitting tower blocks with sprinklers, May pointed out how many Labour councils aren’t so keen on this idea. Then when he brought up universal credit, May shot back that he had never sent her the details of an individual case that he had raised at a previous PMQs.
One other person who will be pleased with how PMQs went today is Damian Green. He was seated on May’s right, firmly in camera shot. This suggests that May’s minders aren’t currently trying to airbrush him out of the picture.