Jeremy Corbyn accused by Labour MPs of ‘incompetence’ over lacklustre PMQs response to National Insurance U-turn

The Labour leader was accused of letting the Conservative 'get away' with bad government

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 15 March 2017 14:38
Jeremy Corbyn's 'lacklustre' response to U-turn on NI rate rises

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of “incompetence” by some of his own MPs after he gave a lacklustre response to the Government’s U-turn on National Insurance at PMQs.

The Chancellor released a letter 20 minutes before the start of Prime Minister’s Questions announcing that the rise, announced just a week ago in the Budget and opposed by Labour, would not be going ahead.

With little time to prepare, the Labour leader was judged by many to fail to land a blow on Theresa May in the House of Commons, inviting ridicule and disdain from his own party on social media.

Labour MPs Tom Blenkinsop and Mike Gapes shared footage from football matches consisting of open goals being missed. Mr Gapes added: “Great question by Yvette Cooper, pity she couldn’t have had six today.” Leaders of the opposition are given six questions to ask the Prime Minister while backbenchers must jostle to ask one.

Mr Blenkinsop said: “May was poor, as usual, but she hasn't suffered her worst PMQs. Serious questions about holding the Government to account need to be asked.”

Labour MP Neil Coyle tweeted: “Another PMQs. Another day Tories get away with failing the economy, workers, police, NHS & schools. Corbyn's incompetence hurts us all.”

​Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, said: “Unless the Corbyn team actually planned for that to be a car crash the inquest should be long, hard and honest. He just can't do it.”

A number of the Labour leader’s contributions were not phrased as questions. Mr Corbyn’s first contribution was: “We’ve just heard the Prime Minister is about to drop the National Insurance hike announced a week ago.

“It seems to me like a bit of chaos here: a budget that unravels in seven days, a Conservative manifesto with a very pensive Prime Minister on the front page, saying there would be no increase. A week ago an increase was announced.

“If they are to drop this increase, as they are indicating, then this is the time they should thank the Federation of Small Businesses and all those who have pointed out just how unfair this increase would be, but also how big business evades an awful lot of National Insurance through bogus self employment.”

After asking this question Mr Corbyn stood down to allow Ms May to respond.

The National Insurance rise, announced a week ago in the Budget would have seen self-employed workers take a 2 per cent tax rise, brought in over two years.

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