UK Politics

Prime Minister's Questions: Cameron and Corbyn in final 2015 clash

David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister's Questions

David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn have exchanged seasonal wishes and barbs at 2015's last Prime Minister's Questions.

The prime minister urged the Labour leader to welcome the latest fall in unemployment, saying the economy was stronger going into Christmas.

Mr Corbyn focused all his questions on health, asking the PM "in the spirit of Christmas" to rethink plans to axe bursaries for nurse training.

The PM also confirmed that 1,000 Syrian refugees had arrived in the UK.

Mr Cameron said he had made it clear the UK would always "do its duty" towards those made homeless by the civil war in Syria and it had made "a very good start" on the way to a target of accepting 20,000 within five years.

The last session of the year started with Mr Corbyn wishing all MPs and astronaut Tim Peake, who is spending Christmas at the International Space Station, a "very happy Christmas and a peaceful new year".

The prime minister appeared to want his counterpart to be more effusive in his festivities, saying "let me be very clear, I don't want to wish him season's greetings, I want a full happy Christmas for the right honourable gentleman and everyone in the House".

Later in the session, the Labour leader corrected Mr Cameron, saying "for the record I did say happy Christmas but maybe the PM wasn't listening".

Health exchanges

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Media captionCorbyn and Cameron on NHS performance

The substance of the exchanges was on health, with Mr Corbyn raising cuts to adult social care funding and the axing of nursing training bursaries, crowdsourcing his last question from a student midwife called Abby.

He also quoted data on hospital discharging rates, saying the number of days that patients remained hospitalised because of a lack of beds in the community had doubled since 2010.

The Labour leader also said the government had cancelled the publication of NHS performance data this winter, having previously said the data was vital to let the public hold officials to account.

"Is it because the number of people being kept waiting on trolleys in A&E has gone up more than fourfold that he does not want to publish these statistics?" he asked the prime minister.

David Cameron said that, on the average day in the NHS, there were 4,000 more operations and 21,000 more outpatient appointments and 2,100 more people seen within four hours than was the case in 2010.

"There is more data published in our NHS than there ever was under Labour".

He defended the government's NHS funding pledges, saying it was only able to inject billions of extra cash because of the strong economy and the fact that economy was creating thousands of new jobs.

Europe talks

Mr Corbyn did not raise the issue of the prime minister's EU renegotiations but the PM was pressed on the matter by the SNP's Westminster leader Angus Robertson and UKIP MP Douglas Carswell.

Mr Robertson asked for a guarantee that Scotland wouldn't be taken out of the EU against its will following a future referendum.

The prime minister replied "this is a United Kingdom and this is a United Kingdom issue", asking the SNP MP "why is he so frightened of listening to the people and holding this historic referendum".

Mr Carswell challenged the PM over his renegotiation objectives. "Three years ago the PM could not have been clearer. His EU renegotiations would mean returning control over social and employment law. Is he still seeking that?"

In response, the PM said he "always found it hard to satisfy" Mr Carswell, who defected from the Tories to UKIP last year, noting that the politician had joined the Conservatives when it was not promising a referendum on the EU, but left when it was doing so.


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Media captionDavid Cameron says Trump's comments are 'divisive, stupid and wrong'

Labour MP Tulip Saddiq asked the prime minister whether US presidential candidate Donald Trump should be banned from the UK for comments he has made about Muslims in the wake of the San Bernadino terror attacks.

Mr Cameron replied: "I happen to disagree with you about Donald Trump. I think his remarks are divisive, stupid and wrong and I think if he came to visit our country I think he'd unite us all against him."

Star Wars

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Media captionWatch: David Cameron makes a Star Wars pun during PMQs

The intergalactic theme in the Commons, which started on Tuesday following Tim Peake's space mission, continued into Prime Minister's Questions.

Both leaders had begun the session by wishing the UK's latest person into space well.

And later in the session Oliver Dowden, the MP for Hertsmere, used a question to pay tribute to the British film industry and celebrate the fact that part of the new Star Wars film was shot at the Elstree film studio in his constituency.

The prime minister said he agreed with Mr Dowden, who used to work in No 10 before becoming an MP, saying that he had no fear that "he would ever join the dark side".

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