This week has been a political wet dream for Jeremy Corbyn. Lefties angry? Check. Popular protests? Check. US President to blame? Check. Hasn’t spilt Cup A Soup down himself on the News at Ten or participated in some other colossal screw up in front of the entire nation? Check! The Labour leader and Seumas Milne were no doubt rubbing their hands in glee preparing for today’s session:
“So, Seumas, let me get this straight. All I’ve got to say is Trump is racist; Muslims are our friends; and call on the Prime Minister to publicly shun the most powerful country in the world and our principal ally and trading partner? And I win? But isn’t that insane? Isn’t what I’m asking for literally insane Seumas?”
“It may be insane but that’s beside the point, Comrade! Look, the PM can’t really disagree because it’s hate speech. And the Guardian and BBC will laud it as a “brave” and “principled” intervention, even though really we’re just beta-males that would happily plunge our economy off a cliff to safeguard our own demented worldview. But don’t worry no one will mention that. It’s a win-win situation!”
“Oh Seumas, you really are good! Hey, here’s an idea, just a thought: Why don’t I propose we nuke Washington, and then, wait for it Seumas, wait for it, then – we unilaterally disarm!”
“Now THAT is good JC! You’re on a roll comrade! It’s chantable even: “Nuke The States, No to Hate!” I like it Jeremy, I like it a lot. And I’m not just saying that because I’m completely divorced from reality either. Let’s save that for next week”.
Being in such fine spirits, Corbyn even managed a witty opening gambit. Paying tribute to recently deceased former MP Tam Dalyell, the Labour leader began by “recommending to all members his autobiography: “The Importance of Being Awkward””, before cracking a wry smile and quipping that he was “quite happy to offer my copy to the Secretary of State for Brexit”. The House broke into laughter, so much in fact that Emily Thornberry was forced to contort her face into all sort of strange shapes as she tried her best to simulate the human emotion of mirth. Corbyn was positively ecstatic as he looked around the Commons. “Oh wow, this feels good!” he thought to himself, “I am the Jimmy Carr of political oratory! Actually wait, didn’t he avoid tax…”
But someone always has to rain on the parade don’t they? And so while he was still basking in the glow of a joke well told, the PM deadpanned back: “I was not aware of Tam Dalyell’s book “The Importance of Being Awkward”, but given the number of resignations that the Right Honourable gentleman has had from his front bench, I suspect that some of his colleagues have indeed read it”. Corbyn looked down and shook his head as he came crashing back to reality with a thud, no doubt making a mental note to next week find a joke that isn’t so directly applicable to his own situation. Given the state of the Labour Party this may be a hard task.
Undeterred, the Labour leader pressed on, asking “why did the Prime Minister three times refuse to condemn the ban?”, going on to loftily cite “the 1951 refugee convention, which commits… states to accept refugees without regard to their “race, religion or country of origin””. The PM caved, eager to state that “on the policy that President Trump has introduced, this Government are clear that it is wrong. We would not do it”. Just for extra measure she bragged that “in six years as Home Secretary, I never introduced such a policy”. Finally, to really make extra sure the message was heard in Washington, she got one more shot in, booming that “we believe it is divisive and wrong!”. Of course this was all fine because luckily Donald Trump is a calm and forgiving man, open to having his ideas publicly dumped on from a great height by his pals.
The main showdown out of the way, Stuart Andrew piped up on something that really mattered, namely congratulating the Prime Minister on her sterling work in posthumously pardoning thousands of gay men. Why stop there? What about reprieves for cow stealers, or apple filchers, or the witches and sundry heretics and malcontents of days past? In fact, why don’t we pardon the entire population of Australia while we’re at it? Brentford MP Ruth Cadbury sombrely informed us that pollution in London has been worse than Beijing recently. The only explanation for this is that it’s karmic retribution for those who stand outside Whitehall chanting for five hours. Tim Farron then rose for a stream of consciousness rant on Brexit bereft of any logical coherence. So absurd was it that Nigel Adams got up next and presaged his question by noting “that it is quite difficult to follow that, Mr Speaker, but back in the real world…”. Alec Shelbrooke behind him then broke into such a fit of laughter that the Speaker had to reprove him, and all attention turned to the burly Elmet and Rothwell MP only to see George Osborne giggling along next to him on the backbenches. Eyes wide and manically laughing like a child high on Haribo, the former Chancellor was clearly having a whale of a time joking around with the cool kids. Finally Naz Shah got up to cite the harrowing case of a young woman who was killed on a trip to Pakistan and the dangerous attitudes towards women that are so prevalent there. If only there was some sort of travel ban we could implement…