Jeremy Corbyn poses bigger economic threat than Brexit: Theresa May
Theresa May claimed a Jeremy Corbyn government is a bigger “threat” to the economy than Brexit as she faced demands to quit as Prime Minister.
Mrs May told MPs she has “made some progress” on Brexit talks following her dash to Europe after cancelling a parliamentary vote on her deal, before saying of Labour’s approach: “No plan, no clue, no Brexit.”
Labour leader Mr Corbyn repeatedly pushed the PM to hold a vote on her Brexit deal and said the “sorry saga” is frustrating businesses, workers and Tory MPs.
He also warned whatever happens with the Conservative Party leadership, it will do “nothing to solve the Government’s inability” to get a deal which works for the UK.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford piled further pressure on Mrs May, telling the Commons: “Prime Minister take responsibility, do the right thing, resign.”
Mrs May had arrived in the Commons to huge cheers from her benches just hours after it emerged she was facing a confidence vote from Tory MPs.
She began Prime Minister’s Questions by joking she will have “possibly many meetings” with ministerial colleagues and others, before being challenged over the prospects of a general election and second referendum.
The PM said: “I think that a general election at this time would not be in the national interest in the middle of our negotiations and secondly, as she will have heard me say before in this House, I think we should respect the result of the referendum that took place in 2016.”
Mr Corbyn warned “nothing has changed” with Mrs May’s Brexit deal and demanded a vote on it before Christmas, which prompted the PM to claim the Opposition leader “couldn’t care less” whether progress has been made.
Mrs May later added she has “made some progress” and said there are still “discussions to be held”.
When pressed on when the vote on her deal will be rescheduled, Mrs May added: “We’ve had a meaningful vote, we had it in in the referendum in 2016.”
The PM added: “And if he (Mr Corbyn) wants a meaningful date, I’ll give him one; 29th March 2019 when we leave the European Union.”
Mr Corbyn pushed Mrs May again to rule out a no-deal Brexit, noting: “She has failed to do that.”
In his final remarks, Mr Corbyn said: “The time for dithering and delay by this Government is over. The Prime Minister has negotiated her deal, she has told us it’s the best and only deal available.
“There can be no more excuses, no more running away, put it before Parliament and let’s have the vote.
“Whatever happens with her Conservative leadership vote today, it is utterly irrelevant to the lives of people across our country – it does nothing to solve the Government’s inability to get a deal that works for the whole country.
“She’s already been found to be in contempt of Parliament – will she now put this deal before Parliament and halt this escalating crisis which is so damaging to the lives of so many people in this country?”
Mrs May attempted a joke which played on the name of shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner, labelling him the “inconstant Gardiner”, before adding: “Can I say to (Mr Corbyn) that he should be honest with people about his position – he couldn’t care less about Brexit.
“What he wants to do is bring down the Government, create uncertainty, sow division and crash our economy.
“The biggest threat to people and to this country isn’t leaving the EU, it’s a Corbyn government.”
For the SNP, Mr Blackford bemoaned the lack of a “meaningful vote” on Brexit.
He said: “We should be having the vote and it should be happening next week. This Government is a farce, the Tory Party is in chaos, the Prime Minister is a disgrace with her actions.
“The reality is that people across Scotland and the UK are seeing this today. Prime Minister take responsibility, do the right thing, resign.”
Mrs May replied: “He makes the remarks he does about deferring the vote, but of course it is precisely because I have listened and colleagues in Government have listened to the views of people across this House, that we are pursing this issue further with the EU, that is being respectful of the views that have been raised in this House.”