David Cameron's positions on both corporate tax and Calais are indefensible

PMQs saw a spectacularly bad day at the office for the leader of the Conservative party

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The Independent Online

The Prime Minister arrived in the Commons today fully aware of the difficult questions he was going to face. Over the last few days the public outcry over the Google ‘sweetheart’ tax deal has only intensified.

It was no surprise that Jeremy Corbyn would lead on this very issue at PMQs – standing to represent ordinary people who suffer through the byzantine tax rules of the largest multinational corporations. While David Cameron landed a blow with the comment that previous members of the Labour leadership work for the likes of JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, it’s a point rendered largely irrelevant ears given the obvious move away from New Labour politics and New Labour economics in the past six months.

Cameron’s big faux pas was labelling refugees stuck in the Calais camp as a “bunch of migrants” in reference to Jeremy Corbyn visit there last weekend. His language was lazy – this is a camp made up of nearly 6,000 people, including hundreds of women and children – and, having referred to flying pickets and the Falklands previously, Cameron appeared to suggest that providing refuge for migrants was another loony policy being suggested by the Labour party.

On the issue of tax Cameron was keen to use his usual magic trick: deflection. Jeremy Corbyn used the tactic of asking the Prime Minister whether he supported a tax rate of 3% - a rate that independent evaluators have concluded the Google agreement amounts to. In doing so, the Labour leader reversed the Cameron’s usual claim that Labour want ever higher taxes, and instead challenged Tories to admit whether they support ever lower taxes for the biggest corporations – something that would lead to a significant loss for the treasury, and even heavier cuts.

Though asked a different question at each interval the Prime Minister stuck to his guns in knocking previous Labour governments’ attempts to retrieve tax from companies such as Google.

This line becomes less convincing every time David Cameron uses it. The Prime Minister has been in power for almost six years and he still relies on dodging his own record by returning to the past. Jeremy Corbyn levelled six questions at the Prime Minister, focusing on Google but also moving to ask questions on the bedroom tax and Yemen. Cameron has become so robotic in his responses that it was hard to distinguish which question he was responding too at which point.

Jeremy Corbyn was wise to stand on the side of the average person on the street – concentrating on issues of corporation and personal tax which effect the many – as it forced the Prime Minister to appear as out-of-touch as ever. Polls have shown that 87% of people are in agreement with the Labour leader over the Google tax issue and yet rather than owning up to it being a stepping stone, the Prime Minister chose to return to the past and play politics with the British economy.

At the same time Cameron failed to offer an apology to the victors in the bedroom tax trial this morning and managed to lambast desperate refugees on the French border. Perhaps he was a little ruffled.