Jeremy Corbyn today came under pressure to apologise after MPs accused him of calling the prime minister a “stupid woman” during a heated exchange in the Commons.
The Labour leader firmly denied he had made a misogynistic remark, claiming during a point of order later on Wednesday that he muttered “stupid people” under his breath to refer to all MPs.
It came as television cameras picked up Mr Corbyn during prime minister’s questions saying something to those next to him after Theresa May likened his attempt to force a vote of no confidence in her leadership to a pantomime.
The footage went viral on social media, but Mr Corbyn later flatly denied using the phrase, telling MPs gathered in the chamber: “I referred to those who I believe were seeking to turn a debate about the national crisis facing our country into a pantomime as “stupid people”.
“I did not use the words “stupid woman” about the Prime Minister or anyone else, and am completely opposed to the use of sexist or misogynist language in absolutely any form at all.”
Ms May had suggested Mr Corbyn apologise if he had indeed used “inappropriate language” as the row overshadowed a heated PMQs that focused on the ongoing Brexit impasse.
The row comes as Sajid Javid, the home secretary, conceded that a Conservative manifesto pledge to keep net migration to the “tens of thousands” has been left out of post-Brexit plans released on Wednesday afternoon.
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The SNP and other opposition parties have tabled a vote of no-confidence in the government.
It comes after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded a Commons vote on the prime minister’s future after she confirmed a vote on her Brexit deal would not take place until after Christmas.
The big event of the day is the publication of the government's immigration white paper, which has been long delayed.
Sajid Javid, the home secretary, hinted at deep cabinet divisions, revealing the government would consult further on the £30,000 salary threshold for migrants. This would prohibit lower-paid staff liked NHS nurses coming from the EU to work in the UK.
“We are not setting the exact threshold today,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, adding: “We will consult further on whether its £30,000 or thereabouts.”
The Home Office would “go away and listen to what businesses have to say” – after heavy criticism from business leaders about the likely economic damage.
Mr Javid also confirmed the document left out the discredited pledge to bring down net migration to “tens of thousands”, saying: “There is no specific target.”
Important story this morning, which is likely to dismay Tory bosses, who consider themselves the party of business.
UK businesses are “watching in horror” as bickering politicians bring the country ever closer to no-deal Brexit, Britain’s five major industry groups have warned.
Read the full story here:
The immigration white paper is driving the agenda this morning, after Sajid Javid appeared to confirm that the manifesto pledge to drop net migration to below the 'tens of thousands' has been scrapped.
Our political editor Joe Watts revealed the news earlier this week, in a victory for The Independent's Drop the Target campaign which was launched back in 2017.
Read his take here:
Snap reaction from Labour's Diane Abbott on the immigration plans.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "If the UK government's immigration paper is as expected it will be devastating for the Scottish economy - our demographics make it essential that we attract people to live and work here.
"A reduction of 80% in people coming here from EU will see our working age population decline.
"Apart from the serious economic damage, these proposals send a terrible message that the UK is becoming less open and welcoming and more insular.
"Why any PM would want to claim this as a personal legacy is beyond me.
"In both the development and content of these proposals, Scotland's interests have been ignored.
"If our economy and society are not to be damaged - and the net positive contribution EU nationals make not lost - we need control over these decisions in our own parliament."
Amber Rudd, the new work and pensions secretary, is making her debut at the Commons committee this morning.
Our social affairs correspondent May Bulman is watching the hearing and she has flagged up that Ms Rudd hinted there could be further delays to universal credit.
Ms Rudd told MPs: “I am enthusiastic about universal credit – I do think we can get it right. I acknowledge it’s not just tinkering – there have been problems, and I see that as the biggest challenge I’ve got.
"I would much rather every individual gets the personal attention and care than sticking to a prescribed timetable."
Ms Rudd also admitted PIP decision-making isn't good enough, saying: "I think we could do better in terms of the waiting time for assessment.
"And I do have concerns about the number of appeals that get through – ie a lot, and that indicates that maybe those earlier decisions could be better made. I very much take your point that it’s a lot to put people through and we need to get a higher rate of success."
Later on, Ms Rudd cast doubt over UC: “It is changing, but we are only at the foothills in some respects, so I’m cautious about saying it’s coping well enough to be absolutely clear about how successful it’s going to be in the next few years."
Sajid Javid is making a statement on immigration at 12.45 and then Jeremy Hunt will also give an update on Yemen.
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