UK Politics

Prime Minister's Questions: The key bits and the verdict

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn

Theresa May went head-to-head with Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons. Here's what happened.

The Windrush scandal dominated, leading to some of the most explosive exchanges yet between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn.

In a pre-emptive strike, the prime minister went straight into an apology for the "confusion and anxiety" caused to the children of first generation Commonwealth immigrants threatened with deportation because they haven't got the right paperwork.

Responding to a planted question from a Tory MP, she said: "These people are British. They are part of us." She repeated her pledge that no one with the right to be in the UK would be deported.

Jeremy Corbyn referred back to a case he had raised a month ago at Prime Minister's Questions - that of Albert Thompson, a man who had been denied NHS cancer treatment he was entitled to because he did not have the right documentation. He accused Mrs May of "brushing it off".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTheresa May says the Home Office has looked into his case and Albert Thompson will receive treatment for prostate cancer

The Home Office has been in contact with Mr Thompson's representatives, said Mrs May, and his NHS treatment should never have been withheld. She suggested Mr Thompson was not part of the Windrush generation.

Then it was on to the landing cards - documents that could have shown when Commonwealth citizens arrived in the UK - that were destroyed by the UK Border Agency during an office move in 2010.

Mr Corbyn tried to pin the decision on Mrs May who was home secretary in 2010 when it was thought to have been taken. Not so, said Mrs May, "the decision to destroy the landing cards was taken in 2009 under a Labour government".

This was news to Mr Corbyn and everybody else (Labour's Jacqui Smith and then Alan Johnson were the home secretaries during the year in question and they have both said they can't remember anything about it).

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTheresa May, who was home secretary in 2010, said the decision was taken a year before under a Labour government.

The Labour leader switched to an attack on the "hostile environment" for illegal immigrants that was created by Home Secretary May, in 2014, which he said had led to the current Windrush debacle.

He then swung back round on to the landing cards, suggesting again Mrs May had been responsible and saying Parliament needed "absolute clarity" on when the decision was taken. It was in 2009, Mrs May told him.

The prime minister - perhaps sensing that she had got one over on Mr Corbyn - then ventured into a defence of her crackdown on illegal immigration, saying it was "absolutely right" that only people entitled to use public services used them.

"This isn't about illegal immigration," said Mr Corbyn, but about Commonwealth citizens "who have a right to be here". He asked how many people from the Windrush generation have been deported.

Mr Corbyn said he had just received information that Albert Thompson had still not been told when he will get the treatment he needs.

Shouting across the despatch box as the noise levels from MPs rose, Mr Corbyn said the responsibility for the Windrush debacle "lies firmly at the prime minister's door" because of her "pandering to bogus immigration targets" when she was home secretary, which he said had led to a "hostile environment" and British citizens "thrown into detention centres like criminals".

He said the Windrush generation came to the UK after the war to help rebuild the country, and claimed Mrs May's government was both "heartless and hopeless" and "callous and incompetent".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionA series of questions about Windrush immigration end with heated exchanges between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May

Theresa May agreed that the Windrush generation "did help to build our country, they are British" which was why the government was working to ensure they could prove their status.

She then took an angry swipe at Mr Corbyn over allegations of anti-Semitism aired by some of his own MPs in an emotional Commons debate on Tuesday.

"He talks about being callous, I will not take that from a man who allows anti-Semitism to run rife in his party."

What else came up?

The SNP's Leader at Westminster Ian Blackford zeroed in on Esther McVey, who sparked controversy on Monday by describing the so-called "rape clause" in Universal Credit as an opportunity for victims to get help. Did the PM agree with the work pension secretary?

Ellie Reeves, Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge, asked if the rise in violent crime in London was down to police cuts.

The Verdicts

Here's what the BBC's Andrew Neil and Laura Kuenssberg made of it:

And here is BBC Parliamentary Correspondent Mark D'Arcy's take on it:

That was just about as bitter a PMQs exchange as Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have had.

The PM was accused of pandering to fears about immigration and creating a Home Office that was "heartless and hopeless". But the PM was prepared.

A critical detail in the Windrush saga is the destruction of critical immigration records - and she said that decision was taken under a Labour government.

It was a point of detail which tripped the Labour leader up - and his voice increasingly had that edge of anger that creeps in in pressure situations.

The PM had, courtesy of a former special advisor, Neil O'Brien, already taken the opportunity to lay out her position before Mr Corbyn rose - and she didn't give an inch, in the face of intense attack in an unruly House.

And her lashback about Labour's internal battle over anti-Semitism delighted her side.

Cornered on unfavourable ground, the PM won this exchange - although Jeremy Corbyn's succession of pointed phrases are doubtless already running on Facebook, and will play well with his target voters.

The Speaker intervened several times to quieten the House and rebuke hecklers - at one point complaining of "stupid" behaviour. Although he didn't name the miscreants. The atmosphere was poisonous - and with the political temperature rising, it will probably continue to curdle.

No-one expects sugary matiness at PMQs, but this kind of mutual contempt is corrosive.

Predictably (although I failed to predict it) there were plenty of questions pegged to the Commonwealth summit, taking place a short distance away.

Nigel Evans raised the issue of gay rights in Commonwealth countries, Stella Creasey complained about an extradition case.

And in 40 minutes, no-one mentioned Brexit.

What pundits are saying on Twitter

And finally, for podcast fans