How do you put people off thinking that a no-deal Brexit might be alright? Jeremy Corbyn clearly thinks the best way to do this is to talk about Chris Grayling and the mess over the contract for ferry services. The Labour leader made this the focus of his stint grilling Theresa May at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, asking how on Earth she could have confidence in her transport secretary when the awarding of the contract has been such an embarrassment.
May defended Grayling, pointing to government spending on the railways as a reason for backing him. She also attacked Corbyn for choosing the ferries as a line of attack, arguing that this was just his attempt to disguise his own lack of answers on Brexit. This naturally provoked some sardonic laughter from MPs on the opposite benches, given the Prime Minister has just asked for even more time to come up with a solution to the Brexit stalemate.
As ever, Corbyn’s questions didn’t move on the row. But it did keep it salient and remind everyone in the process that even if there could be a scenario where no deal wouldn’t be chaotic, the government’s approach means that it is now not a particularly attractive prospect.
A question from Tory backbencher Henry Smith allowed May to deal with yesterday’s story about Olly Robbins’ overheard comments outlining her Brexit strategy. She tried to dismiss this as hearsay, but didn’t explicitly rule out extending Article 50.
One non-Brexit related issue that came up was Monday’s admission from Amber Rudd that there was a link between rising food bank demand and universal credit. The work and pensions secretary looked somewhat pained as quasi-Tory Heidi Allen raised it, demanding further changes to the benefit. Though the leadership rarely worries about complaints from Allen, it represented a point of tension for a government that has, up until this week, steadfastly refused to admit that there is anything wrong.