Theresa May, our stand-in prime minster, was hit by a surprisingly effective ambush at PMQs.
Jeremy Corbyn led on Britain’s involvement in the Yemeni conflict. Last week the Court of Appeal ruled that the government had overlooked Saudi Arabia’s responsibility for breaches of international law.
Mrs May sounded desperate as she quoted a legal finding from 2017 that the government had engaged in ‘anguished scrutiny’ of Saudi Arabia’s position.
Corbyn rolled out some mighty figures. 200,000 had died in Yemen, he said, many of them children. Famine and disease are about to claim 100,000 more lives. All because of May.
Her response – that the Foreign Secretary is hosting a meeting of the Yemen Quad – sounded feeble. Corbyn clobbered her again.
‘Why has she pumped £4.6bn of military equipment into this brutal bombardment already?’
He made the PM sound like a war-criminal. ‘Stop arms sales,’ he implored, ‘and bring peace.’
The lethality of Corbyn’s attack lay in its fairytale simplicity and its disregard of facts. The prime minister has not personally ‘pumped £4.6 billion of military equipment’ into air-raids on children. But he drew his materials together skilfully, and he brought in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to suggest that Saudi Arabia flouts its own laws as well as the international codebook.
He’s doing well out of this nasty war and he’s likely to lead on it when he faces his new opponent at PMQs. The candidates have homework to do.
One option for the next prime minister is to simply dismiss Corbyn as a ‘liar.’
The l-word was once taboo in parliament. Now it’s permissible if today’s session becomes a precedent.
The trouble began last week when the SNP’s Ian Blackford called Boris Johnson a racist. ‘Withdraw’ said the Speaker. Blackford ignored this ruling and repeated the accusation. Nothing was done. Today, encouraged by that easy defeat of the Speaker’s authority, Blackford went one better. He said Boris Johnson has ‘made a career out of lying.’
Chaos erupted. Cries of ‘Withdraw! Withdraw!’ echoed around the Chamber. It took the Speaker some time to stand up and when he did he simply rebuked the noisiest of the protestors.
‘I do not require counsel from you,’ he snapped at a Tory heckler.
Blackford escaped discipline. This means that MPs may now accuse each other of duplicity. Next, the odd headbutt will be considered OK.
Many MPs mentioned the climate lobbyists thronging to parliament today. Jeremy Corbyn thanked them soulfully. ‘Those young climate strikers have done so much,’ he wheedled. He urged members ‘to meet them and learn from them.’
Learn what? How to raise taxes and give more power to governments? MPs adore the present climate panic because it turns naturally rebellious teenagers into pompous worshippers of Big State authoritarianism.
Greta the Jetsetter has brainwashed our parliamentarians to the point where none of them spotted an absurdity at the end of the session. The Speaker welcomed Dr Lobsang Sangay from the Central Tibetan Administration to the Chamber.
‘He’s been here before. He’s here again.’
Twice? That’s a lot of air pollution. Can’t he watch it from a laptop in the Himalayas?
Of course he can’t. The rulers of the world are exempt from air-travel restrictions because they fly differently from us. When they’re in First Class, they’re solving the problem. When we’re in Economy we’re causing it.