Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read posts from today, on Lord Ashcroft, motherhood and a Tory shoot 'em up game.

1. Osborne, Geithner and losing the public

Recent reports suggest that Kenneth Clarke is to replace George Osborne as the main face of Tory economic policy. Paul Waugh suggests that Osborne look across the Atlantic for solace.

2. So who's really playing politics with the Ashcroft peerage inquiry?

Sunder Katwala looks at the issues raised by the refusal of three Tory MPs to participate in the inquiry into Michael Ashcroft's tax affairs. Will MPs always argue that a committee is "partisan" when the outcome could be inconvenient?

3. Make politics fit women's lives, not vice versa

Life as an MP and motherhood are incompatible. Over at Liberal Democrat Voice, Dinti Batstone, vice-chair of the Campaign for Gender Balance, outlines ways of remedying this.

4. I have delivered and I'm not done yet, the minister who is doing the most to reform Britain's constitution replies to John Jackson

The minister of state for justice, Michael Wills, defends his record on constitutional reform over at openDemocracy.

5. Gordon Brown stars in hilarious Tory shoot 'em up computer game!

Looking for something to while away your Friday afternoon? Political Scrapbook blogs on a great new product from Political Gaming -- called Gordon's Revenge.

Sign up now to CommentPlus for the pick of the day's opinion, comment and analysis in your inbox at 8am.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

PMQs review: Theresa May shows how her confidence has grown

After her Brexit speech, the PM declared of Jeremy Corbyn: "I've got a plan - he doesn't have a clue". 

The woman derided as “Theresa Maybe” believes she has neutralised that charge. Following her Brexit speech, Theresa May cut a far more confident figure at today's PMQs. Jeremy Corbyn inevitably devoted all six of his questions to Europe but failed to land a definitive blow.

He began by denouncing May for “sidelining parliament” at the very moment the UK was supposedly reclaiming sovereignty (though he yesterday praised her for guaranteeing MPs would get a vote). “It’s not so much the Iron Lady as the irony lady,” he quipped. But May, who has sometimes faltered against Corbyn, had a ready retort. The Labour leader, she noted, had denounced the government for planning to leave the single market while simultaneously seeking “access” to it. Yet “access”, she went on, was precisely what Corbyn had demanded (seemingly having confused it with full membership). "I've got a plan - he doesn't have a clue,” she declared.

When Corbyn recalled May’s economic warnings during the referendum (“Does she now disagree with herself?”), the PM was able to reply: “I said if we voted to leave the EU the sky would not fall in and look at what has happened to our economic situation since we voted to leave the EU”.

Corbyn’s subsequent question on whether May would pay for single market access was less wounding than it might have been because she has consistently refused to rule out budget contributions (though yesterday emphasised that the days of “vast” payments were over).

When the Labour leader ended by rightly hailing the contribution immigrants made to public services (“The real pressure on public services comes from a government that slashed billions”), May took full opportunity of the chance to have the last word, launching a full-frontal attack on his leadership and a defence of hers. “There is indeed a difference - when I look at the issue of Brexit or any other issues like the NHS or social care, I consider the issue, I set out my plan and I stick to it. It's called leadership, he should try it some time.”

For May, life will soon get harder. Once Article 50 is triggered, it is the EU 27, not the UK, that will take back control (the withdrawal agreement must be approved by at least 72 per cent of member states). With MPs now guaranteed a vote on the final outcome, parliament will also reassert itself. But for now, May can reflect with satisfaction on her strengthened position.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.