Theresa May pleads with EU27 for Brexit deal she can defend
On Wednesday, (18th October 2017) however it was different. True there were the interruptions from members, the baying and shouting, the noise of unruly behaviour and John Burcow seeking to keep some sort of order, but this PMQ's session was different in the sense that the observer may well have take the view that this was perhaps not the last, but certainly very close to the last time that we shall see Theresa May at the despatch box trying but failing to convince her own benches, the rest of the assembled MP's and the watching media that she is in charge of her facts and capable of leading this country. She is of course adequately capable of answering the "planted questions", from her own MP's sitting behind her, but in the "thinking on her feet" performances she demonstrates only hesitancy, confusion and ineptitude.
She already has had three dreadful episodes over the past few weeks. The Florence speech was poor in content and delivery, the speech to the Conservative party Conference was a disaster and last weeks PMQ's (11th October 2017), reduced the Prime Minister to second place in the performance ratings behind Jeremy Corbyn. Wednesday's performance continued this wretched path of a Prime Minister rapidly sinking towards the depths of obscurity leaving nothing behind except the sad memory of someone promoted beyond the level of their own competence. Struggling to find a response to questions on employment and falling wages leading to reliance on benefits, stuttering and evasive on criticisms of Universal Credit and its effect that delays in payments has upon thousands of claimants, a subject which will haunt her for the rest of the day and beyond, funding for the lifting of the public sector pay cap much talked about by Jeremy Hunt and the rest of the government brought about another oblique reference to the Prime Ministers now ridiculed "magic money tree", but no substantive answers, growing indebtedness, specifically of young people, drew the tired, pathetic and untrue cliche used by the Conservatives ad nauseum over the past ten years, of the "deficit that the Labour government left us" was the cause of all conservative economic ills, the Prime Minister was clearly relived when this initial examination was over and she was able to retire into the safer ground of the "planted" questions from conservative allies.
The rest of the day ofered no respite from the embarrassment to this government and its embattled Prime Minister. The opposition motion on pausing the roll out of Universal Credits was passed by 299 votes to nil when conservative whips ordered their MP's to abstain rather than face a humiliating defeat. A tactic which drew criticism from Speaker John Burcow. Some hours after this debate, in a pathetic response, Theresa May's deputy Damien Green said, "All governments have to abide by the rules of parliament. We’re a parliamentary democracy, as the Speaker said last night, motions like that are non-binding motions, so they don’t engage government activity particularly. On any individual vote, the chief whip and the whips will decide what the party’s position will be, but, absolutely, we contribute fully to parliament and we obviously will continue to respect parliamentary rules.”.
There was perhaps the consolation prize of a hug and a kiss on both cheeks as she left the meeting, but she must have been very conscience of the fact that Jeremy Corbyn and his "Brexit team" were also in Brussels for meetings with Michel Barnier, Jean-Claude Juncker and the Prime Ministers of other EU nations.