UK Politics

Prime Minister's Questions: Corbyn v May and other key clashes

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn and Theresa May make counter claims over party spending on health services.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused the government of taking NHS to the "worst crisis in its history".

He said the system in England was "failing" the elderly and four million people on waiting lists.

But Theresa May said more people were being treated, with doctor and nurse numbers up under the Conservatives.

Mr Corbyn focused on the NHS during PMQs, as Mrs May also faced questions about Brexit and raised a laugh with a remark to an MP on his birthday.

Leaders clash on NHS cash

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During their weekly exchange in the House of Commons, Mr Corbyn told the prime minister that 40% of mental health trusts had had their budgets cut last year and that six trusts had had this for three years in a row.

He said: "I started by asking you about parity of esteem - all this government has produced is parity of failure.

"Failing mental health patients, failing elderly people who need social care, failing the four million on the NHS waiting list, failing five times as many people waiting more than four hours at A&E departments, and another winter crisis is looming.

"The Society for Acute Medicine, I believe, has it right when it says this funding crisis and the local government funding crisis is leaving the NHS on its knees."

Mrs May told Mr Corbyn the government was investing £7.4bn in mental health services.

She said: "At every election, the Labour Party claims that the Conservatives will cut NHS spending; after every election we increase NHS spending.

"At every election Labour claims the Tories will privatise the NHS; at every election in government we have protected the NHS.

"There's only one party that has cut funding for the NHS - the Labour Party in Wales."

Ken Clarke attacks "Brexiteers"

The veteran ex-chancellor urged Mrs May to crack down on her "Brexiteer" ministers, accusing them of "briefing the newspapers copiously" on the government's negotiation deliberations - "and launching political attacks on their Cabinet colleagues who seem to disagree with them".

He called for MPs to be able to scrutinise the government's "broad strategy" - a point which is currently the subject of fierce political debate.

The PM - who has refused calls for a vote before negotiations begin - said MPs would be given a "say", adding that she would be "ambitious" in seeking a deal that controlled migration and allowed businesses access to the single market.

PM defends abuse inquiry role

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Media captionTheresa May is asked about government handling of child sex abuse inquiry claims.

Labour's Lisa Nandy pressed Mrs May - who was home secretary before becoming PM - on when she first knew about the "serious problems" surrounding the child sex abuse inquiry.

MPs were told on Tuesday that a member of the inquiry panel had privately raised concerns about former chairwoman Dame Lowell Goddard with a director-general in the Home Office in April - when Mrs May was still home secretary.

Mrs May replied: "There were stories around about the inquiry and about individuals related to the inquiry but the home secretary cannot intervene on the basis of suspicion, rumour or hearsay."

Leaders' Aberfan tributes

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Image caption A waste tip collapsed in Aberfan in 1966, killing 144 people

Tributes were paid to the victims of the disaster 50 years ago in the south Wales village of Aberfan.

On 21 October 1966 116 children and 28 adults in the village were killed after a waste tip collapsed.

Mrs May said: "It's right to pause and reflect and recognise the solidarity and resilience of the people of Aberfan to overcome this tragedy."

Mr Corbyn said many people in the community were still living with the tragedy, "and they will live with that tragedy for the rest of their days".

The prime minister also agreed with Labour MP Gerald Jones that a minute's silence should be observed across the UK to mark the anniversary.

SNP asks about arms sales to Saudi Arabia

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Media captionAngus Robertson asked Theresa May about claims over UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

What the pundits made of the session

The BBC's Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg said it was a tricky outing for Mrs May with a number of unanswered questions on key issues. The PM, she said, seemed to be saying she was aware of concerns about the child abuse inquiry but that it was wrong for ministers to intervene, begging the question of what she knew and when.

On the EU, she said Mrs May hinted that she was about to embark on lengthy discussions on the UK's exit and other related issues - which left a question about them maybe stretching beyond the two years stipulated in the Lisbon Treaty, and what the implications would be if that were the case.

Some more snap verdicts from the press:

  • The most stultifyingly tedious #PMQs exchange yet between Corbyn and May. To his blunt soundbites on NHS, she offered no illumination back. (Tom Newton Dunn, The Sun)
  • No score draw #PMQs (Chris Shipp, ITV)
  • "Corbyn was persistent and more self-assured than in previous outings but (the PM) left the exchanges having held her own" (James Beattie, The Mirror)
  • "After two reasonably successful bouts against the Prime Minister, the Labour leader appeared to struggle as he failed to land any knockout blows" (Katy Balls, Spectator)

And finally.... birthday greetings for Peter Bone

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Media captionThe Speaker intervenes when the PM seems to know too much about Peter Bone's birthday.

A lighter moment came when Tory backbencher Peter Bone - who is fond of referencing "Mrs Bone" in his questions - announced it was his birthday as he introduced his question.

He urged the PM to deliver him a present by agreeing to reopen Wellingborough prison in his constituency, adding: "Or would she rather just sing happy birthday?"

Mrs May replied: "I'm very happy to wish you a very happy birthday today, many happy returns.

"I hope that Mrs Bone is going to treat the occasion in an appropriate manner."

The PM paused as MPs started laughing.

Speaker John Bercow, intervened, adding: "Order! I want to hear what's coming next."

"Calm down, Mr Speaker," the PM said, returning to his questions and adding that Wellingborough was being considered for a new prison.