PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn stands up for “the left behind”

The Labour leader is focusing on the Brexit-voting areas of Britain.


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During Prime Minister’s Questions, Jeremy Corbyn hammered David Cameron on the lack of help for communities that feel “left behind” by the government.

The Labour leader didn’t ask the Prime Minister questions about the Chilcot Inquiry, which reported this morning, because he was saving his thoughts for a statement post-PMQs.

Instead, he demanded answers about exploitative employment agencies that force down wages in areas of low-paid work, like Boston in Lincolnshire (the highest Brexit-voting area in the UK), and called for the PM to focus on those across the country in insecure jobs.

He called for a crackdown on low wages and the exploitation of casual contracts, and urged the government to invest more in areas that have missed out on wealth and job creation. His argument was that, now George Osborne has abandoned his fiscal rule (to eliminate the deficit), it’s time to start spending on areas that are most in need:

“Invest in the northeast, in Lincolnshire, in Derbyshire, all those places that feel with good reason that they’ve been left behind, and the investment is going to the wrong places, and they’re ending up with few jobs on low wages, and insecure employment to boot.”

Cameron’s reaction was to make jokes about the Labour shadow frontbench resignations (calling the coup Corbyn’s own “job creation scheme”), and crowed at the opposition: “Hands up who wants a leadership election?” (No hands went up).

Unfortunately, Chilcot and the Prime Minister’s lack of engagement with Corbyn’s questions will drown out this subject. But if no one is coming up with answers to Britain’s divisions now, they will be much deeper – and far more difficult to heal – in the future.

Anoosh Chakelian is the New Statesman’s Britain editor.