Corbyn tells May to remind Tory MPs about ‘disastrous’ no-deal Brexit
Theresa May was urged to remind her potential successors of the dangers of a no-deal Brexit, amid criticism of her industrial legacy.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said MPs sitting behind and alongside the Prime Minister needed to be told again about the “disastrous” impact of the UK leaving the EU without an agreement, as he took aim at the Government’s record on cars, steel and renewables.
But Mrs May hit back by insisting Mr Corbyn’s warning would be a little more sincere if he had not consistently voted against her deal, and thereby increased the risk of a no-deal Brexit.
Their exchanges came ahead of a cross-party motion, backed by Labour, which aims to give MPs control of the Commons agenda on June 25 as part of a bid to stop the UK leaving without a deal on October 31.
Mrs May, facing questions from SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, said the motion sought to “hand control” of business to the Commons before adding: “That is something we will not do.”
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Corbyn said: “The country is in crisis over Brexit. Manufacturing is in crisis. The Prime Minister’s Government has brought us to this point.
“And now the Conservative Party is once again in the process of foisting a new prime minister on the country without the country having a say through a general election.
“This Prime Minister created the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in July 2016. Has the Prime Minister actually delivered an industrial strategy since then?”
Mrs May accused Mr Corbyn of writing his question before listening to her previous answer, where she had laid out details of the Government’s industrial strategy across the country and in the Midlands to Tory MP Michael Fabricant.
Mr Corbyn went on to warn UK car production has been “virtually cut in half” in the last 11 consecutive months, adding: “Ford has also said that a no-deal Brexit would put a further 6,000 UK jobs at risk, with thousands more at risk in the supply chain.
“Nissan, Toyota, BMW and JLR have all said similar.
“Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to reiterate her Government’s assessment that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for Britain?
“I think some of her colleagues behind her and alongside her need reminding of that.”
Mrs May, in her reply, noted: “It would come a little bit more sincerely from him if he hadn’t gone through the lobbies regularly and consistently voting to increase the chances of no-deal by voting against the deal.”
Mr Corbyn later attempted to poke fun at confessions made by Tory leadership candidates about their respective pasts.
He noted: “I know the Tory leadership candidates have been falling over themselves to confess to their past indulgences, but can the Prime Minister name an industry that is legal that her Government ministers have actually backed?”
Mrs May dismissed Mr Corbyn’s criticism of the Government’s renewables record, claiming “99% of solar power deployed in the UK has been deployed under a Conservative Government”.
Opposition leader Mr Corbyn concluded by telling MPs the legacy of Mrs May’s Government is “one of failure” before adding she had failed to tackle burning injustices, protect pensioner benefits and take action to deal with flammable cladding following Grenfell.
He said: “They promised a Northern Powerhouse, they failed to deliver it and every northern newspaper is campaigning for this Government to ‘power up the north’. They promised net zero by 2050 yet they failed on renewables and are missing climate change targets. They promised an industrial strategy, output is falling.
“So which does the Prime Minister see as the biggest industrial failure of her Government – the car industry, the steel industry or the renewables industry?”
Mrs May replied: “He can pose for his YouTube clip as much as he likes, but let’s actually look at what this Government has delivered.”
She pointed to a racial disparity audit, “record investment” in northern transport infrastructure, NHS funding, a “record” employment rate, house building, a stamp duty cut and “leading the world” on climate change.
Mrs May added: “That is a record of Conservatives in government that we are proud of and we will never let him destroy it.”