Welcome to The Independent’s liveblog on Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
Theresa May is in the Middle East as part of her efforts to strengthen links with other trading partners as Brexit approaches. So at Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon, Damian Green, in his capacity as First Secretary of State and de facto Prime Minister, stepped in for his close friend Ms May.
Despite an ongoing Cabinet Office investigation into alleged inappropriate behaviour by Mr Green, the Prime Minister insisted on her flight to the Middle East that she is “sure he will do a very good job”.
It marks a significant display of support for her friend and embattled ally Mr Green but the Prime Minister’s official spokesman insisted there was no attempt to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation currently underway.
Mrs May ordered an inquiry last month into allegations that Mr Green made inappropriate advances to a young female activist, and the probe was later widened to cover claims that pornography was found by police on a computer in his office.
Asked what her decision to ask him to deputise revealed about her own attitude towards victims of sexual harassment, Mrs May told reporters: “He is the First Secretary of State, he has deputised for me at Prime Minister's Questions before.
“Obviously considerations of these issues are continuing, but he is First Secretary of State, he has done Prime Minister's Questions before and I am sure he will do a very good job.”
Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, stood in for the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and tackled him on a growing number of nurses leaving the NHS and cuts to hospitals in his own constituency. She also joked about being able to support an Anglo-America relationship – the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Mr Green also faced questions from the SNP’s Westminster leader over arms sales to Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the war in Yemen. But Green said suspending arms sales to the region would result in a significant number of British workers losing jobs.
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