Jeremy Corbyn turned the entire media against Theresa May with his performance at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on 8 February. The Labour leader ambushed the Prime Minister with leaked messages suggesting that the government placated the Conservative-controlled Surrey Council with a special deal for adult social care. Corbyn noted that both Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Chancellor Phillip Hammond have constituencies in Surrey.
May was unable to provide any answers. Even The Sun backed Corbyn, saying May was “left doing her best fly catching impression”.
The leaked messages
At PMQs, Corbyn read out leaked text messages on a “memorandum of understanding” between the government and Surrey Council. The leaked texts suggest the government offered Conservative Council Leader David Hodge extra cash to ‘kill off’ a referendum on a Surrey Council tax hike. The council originally floated a 15% increase in council tax to pay for its adult social care crisis. The tax hike would’ve embarrassed both Hammond and Hunt.
Hodge wrote that the “numbers” he received are acceptable enough for him to “call off the referendum”.
In the Commons, Corbyn demanded answers from the Prime Minister:
Will the government now publish this memorandum of understanding and, while they’re about it, will all councils be offered the same deal?
May was left floundering to the point where the entire mainstream media backed Corbyn.
The Huffington Post’s Executive Political Editor tweeted:
Corbyn is so far winning #PMQs hands down with this text-ual analysis.
May sounding shifty.
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) February 8, 2017
The reaction swept across the media. The Editor of PoliticsHome tweeted:
Probably Jeremy Corbyn's best ever #PMQs . Theresa May floundering over leaked texts suggesting social care "sweetheart deal" on social care
— Kevin Schofield (@PolhomeEditor) February 8, 2017
The mainstream media, usually hostile to Corbyn, unanimously handed the Labour leader the win:
Meanwhile, Labour MPs rallied round Corbyn and took aim at the Prime Minister:
Answers needed to sweetheart deal that appears to have been given to Surrey Council. An exclusive deal or can other councils apply? #PMQs
— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) February 8, 2017
PM floundering & resorting to personal abuse to deflect from Tory Surrey Council sweetheart deal #PMQs
— Jo Stevens (@JoStevensLabour) February 8, 2017
— Justin Madders MP (@justinmadders) February 8, 2017
Deflection falls flat
The Prime Minister attempted to deflect attention from the leaked texts, accusing Corbyn of using “alternative facts”. But given the Trump Administration coined the phrase, May’s soundbite fell especially flat. The Prime Minister has been cosying up to the very administration that tries to disguise its lies by calling them ‘alternative facts’.
And the crisis goes far beyond Surrey. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services has estimated that the Conservatives cut £4.6bn from social care budgets between 2010 and 2015. Councils drastically need more funding for social care across the UK.
With the help of leaked messages, Corbyn steamrollered May at PMQs on 8 February. Even The Sun took the p*ss out of the Prime Minister. And that says a lot.
Watch the exchange here:
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