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18 March 2020

“Lead by example”: veteran Labour MP Margaret Hodge tells Jeremy Corbyn to skip PMQs

The Barking MP, 75, says the Labour leader should avoid PMQs and that Boris Johnson's press conferences had left her confused.

By George Grylls

Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP for Barking, has warned the party leader Jeremy Corbyn against attending a packed House of Commons today for Prime Minister’s Questions.

“I think he should lead by example,” said Hodge. “There’s plenty of really talented people who would do a good job.

“If it’s supposed to be a a unified, cross-party approach to what is a crisis, then we should lead by example.”

Hodge, who has self-isolated because of her age, said that she received a text from the whips over the weekend asking if she would be coming in to parliament but made the decision to stay at home. “I’m in the over-70s category so I think I better be careful.”

She said the Prime Minister’s press conference on Monday had left her confused about how she should continue to do her work.

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“For me, coming out of that, what I really thought is what the punters really want to know – what do I do? What do I do? I came away thinking ‘I don’t really get what I’m supposed to do.’ That’s crazy.”

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Hodge will be continuing her constituency work over Zoom, WhatsApp and Facebook, helping to organise a parents’ group that wants to upgrade local playground equipment. But she said that she has had to delay some of her parliamentary work, such as the planned merger of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Corruption and Responsible Taxation.

“I’m going to read the Hilary Mantel, I’m going to play the piano much more,” said Hodge of some of the benefits of self-isolation. “My garden will look proper.”

“We are at the beginning of finding a new norm. You can’t call this a crisis, because a crisis assumes it will be over in a month. This has got to be the new norm.”