It’s a measure of quite how badly split the government is on Brexit that Jeremy Corbyn, who would previously avoid the matter because of problems in his own party, looked comfortable as he devoted all six of his questions at Prime Minister’s Questions today to the subject. Theresa May came prepared, not so much with answers on who in her government is telling the truth about the Chequers agreement and the chances and consequences of a no deal, but with attacks on Corbyn’s handling of Labour’s anti-semitism row.
This preparation gave the Prime Minister some decent pay-offs, including her final answer, when she closed the exchanges by saying ‘he should be ashamed of himself’. But Corbyn succeeded in highlighting the level of confusion and disagreement within the government with a series of quotes from senior politicians about no deal. He also cracked a reasonable (by the standard of today’s PMQs, that is) joke about the Prime Minister ‘dancing round all the issues’.
Corbyn’s weakest question was his fourth one, in which he cited Panasonic planning to move out of the UK because of fears of a no deal situation. This prompted May to list businesses which were happy with the government’s approach to Brexit. This particular exchange was rather reminiscent of the way the leaders spar on the NHS, listing competing and often contradictory staffing and waiting time figures until everyone tunes out. But the overall message from the session was that the government doesn’t agree with itself on no deal.