SOMETHING very odd happened at Prime Minister’s Questions today – the Prime Minister sided with her Chancellor in public after an election campaign spent undermining him.
Many were expecting some ground to be given on the controversial public sector pay cap after weeks of cabinet bickering, but Theresa May backed Philip Hammond on the need to keep the foot on the austerity pedal – for now.
And she didn’t stop there, the PM even sided with the last Chancellor – who she relished in sacking a year ago – echoing some of George Osborne’s favourite lines.
We must “live within our means”, take “tough decisions” and “it isn’t fair to refuse to take tough decisions and load debt on grandchildren”.
She even repeated Cameron and Osborne’s warning that Britain was heading for a Greek-style meltdown.
And the PM stuck to the script throughout the bout: “We’ve seen record numbers in employment, nearly three million more people in work… that’s the record of good management of the economy.”
It was 2015 all over again!
If only she had relentlessly beaten up Labour’s record on the economy, and championed Tory successes in the election, then perhaps she would not be open to Jeremy Corbyn’s barbs.
His line about finding £1billion “to keep her own job” while ignoring the needs of others was particularly wounding.
If she had let her cabinet off the leash – especially Philip Hammond – to rough up Labour on the economy – during the long seven weeks of the campaign, perhaps it might not even be Mr Corbyn the PM faced at these weekly duels.
There was a textbook flash of the Maybot when the PM claimed: “I understand why people feel strongly about the issue of their pay” – but there was also a sign of confidence creeping back into Mrs May’s performance.
“The right honourable gentleman likes to describe his party as a government in waiting…. Waiting to put up taxes… Waiting to bankrupt our country… We will never let it happen.”
Just a shame she had to borrow someone else’s script, a month too late.
Theresa May 4, Jeremy Corbyn 2
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