Theresa May began today’s PMQs with a requiem for her predecessor, opting in sombre tone to list the departing Member for Witney’s crowning achievements. He was, she opined, “a tremendous public servant”, whose tenure saw “the economy being stabilised..and people on low incomes being taken out of tax”. That was it: a two sentence elegy for a two bob Prime Minister whose achievements are so minor they could be comfortably rattled off without pause for breath.
In fact the only thing she missed out was the legalisation of same sex marriage. Marie Antoinette said “let them eat cake”, David Cameron said “let them…”. Well I digress. Either way both wound up with their heads chopped off a year later in the midst of a revolutionary uprising against a quasi-feudal chumocracy. Such is politics.
The Labour leader naturally decided to kick things off with his weekly memorial, bestowing on the lucky few the singular honour of his Parliamentary tribute. “Who this time?” The nation wondered. A fallen Hamas regional organiser? A PLO munitions supplier? The Grand Mufti of Gaza and the Occupied Territories perhaps? No, turns out not. This time Mr. Corbyn decided to pay his respects to the brave Police Constable who got shivved in Merseyside trying to arrest a rapist. What’s more, he didn’t even then go on to ask that we also pay our respects to all Police Constables around the world who get shivved trying to arrest a rapist, as he is so wont to do.
Mrs. May responded in turn with her own tribute to the Force, recalling her enjoyment of annually attending the Police Bravery Awards as Home Secretary. It was “at that event”, she recalled in awe, “we saw police officers who never know when they start their shift what is going to happen to them”. Here was a unifying sentiment that many officers who were subject to her policing reforms could no doubt heartily agree with. “They run towards danger when other people would run away from it” the PM concluded. Ah! Now that’s why the Labour leader was so keen to pay tribute to the boys in blue: he recognised in them a kindred spirit.
Corbyn then went on to give May an actually rather good interrogation on the subject of grammar schools. He produced arguments from third parties, continued to probe her when she failed to answer, and even managed to use her predecessor’s word’s against her, reciting a diatribe from David Cameron against selective reduction with a smirk. One can’t help but suspect that the Labour leader might just be beginning to get the hang of this. No wonder Jezza’s not into selective education: he’s clearly an exponent of learning on-the-job.
Of course it wouldn’t have been PMQs without some put-out Remainer gravely lamenting the as-yet-unforeseen but nonetheless rapidly approaching financial armageddon wrought by Brexit. So positive is the general economic outlook however that they’ve wound up having to scour the Pink ’Un for any hint of doom and gloom. Here they’ve finally seized on the issue of “passporting”, a European initiative which allows the continent’s financial institutions provide services throughout the EEA, regardless of where they’re based.
The SNP’s Deidre Brock and Angus Robertson were naturally particularly concerned about this issue and it’s potential ramifications for the profit margins of London’s bulge bracket investment banks: a cause close to any Scot Nat’s heart. However they can sleep sound at night, because had they done even a scintilla of research they’d have realised that there are a range of ways the UK’s financial institutions can get around this, from setting up satellite offices to ensuring equivalence of financial regulation in compliance with MiFID II. Phew! The Clyde can sleep easy tonight, safe in the knowledge that their cherished City bankers aren’t going anywhere.
Finally Victoria Atkins chirped up to rail against the growing menace of safe-spaces on University campuses. “Fear of being offended must not trump freedom of speech”, she thundered, with the Prime Minister condemning the “concept of safe spaces as quite extraordinary”, and the House echoed to cheers of “Hear, hear!”. Clearly they had all forgot spending almost a month last year debating how to best refer to ISIS in order to not hurt anyone’s feelings.
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