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

By Brian Wheeler
Political reporter

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

Windrush dominated for the second week running, with Jeremy Corbyn focusing on Theresa May's controversial "hostile environment" policy - brought in when she was home secretary. Its aim was to make it is a difficult as possible for illegal immigrants to live in the UK, which the Labour leader claims created the Windrush crisis in the first place.

He began, though, with a call for those Windrush migrants - people from the Commonwealth who moved legally to the UK before 1973 - who had lost jobs, benefits and pensions to be "compensated fully".

Mrs May went through all the measures the government was taking to help the Windrush migrants and repeated her line from last week's PMQs that they "are British, they are part of us". She said citizenship tests and fees would be waived for them and their children in many cases - but there was no commitment to "full compensation".

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Mr Corbyn hit back that "it's not an act of generosity to waive citizenship fees when they are British citizens already".

He then quoted an internal Home Office memo that had warned that the "hostile environment" policy would have a negative impact on Windrush migrants. Mrs May hit back with a quote of her own, from former Labour immigration minister - and current shadow digital minister - Liam Byrne, talking about "flushing out" illegal immigrants.

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She said the last Labour government had introduced a series of measures aimed at making life difficult for illegal immigrants - because that's what the public wanted. And, she claimed, it was an entirely different issue to the Windrush migrants who, she repeated time and again, were in the UK legally but just didn't have the right documentation.

Mr Corbyn said Mrs May was warned in 2014 about the impact of new immigration rules by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and former communities secretary Eric Pickles. However the prime minister "ignored" their advice.

media captionThe British people want the government to deal with illegal immigration, Theresa May tells the Labour leader.

Mr Corbyn said the prime minister "seems to want to get away from the injustice done to the Windrush generation" - and called on her to repeal the 2016 Immigration Act.

The tension between the two was rising - along with the noise from MPs - as Mr Corbyn called for the "hostile environment" policy - which he said had "swept up" legal migrants like the Windrush generation to meet "bogus" immigration targets - to be scrapped.

He then used his final questions to draw a line between her actions as home secretary and Amber Rudd, who he said had "inherited" these "failing policies" and then toughened them further. He called on Ms Rudd to resign.

media captionJeremy Corbyn on Amber Rudd: “Isn’t it time she took responsibility and resigned?"

The prime minister went into a standard denunciation of Labour's economic policies which she said were not "kind" or "fair" to anybody - but the questions about Windrush were far from over as an SNP MP, Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable and a furious Yvette Cooper kept up the pressure on her (see below)

What else came up?

The SNP's Westminster Leader Ian Blackford said the CBI, the NFU, the Scottish government, the Welsh government and the House of Lords and a majority of MPs want the UK to remain in the customs union.

Leaving it is not in the interests of the UK, he told the PM.

Mrs May said the British people voted to leave the European Union and by doing that they voted to leave the single market and the customs union.

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Theresa May quoted Yvette Cooper during her clashes with Jeremy Corbyn - a 2013 comment by the then shadow home secretary about the need for "strong action" against illegal immigration.

This provoked a furious reaction from Ms Cooper, who now chairs the home affairs select committee, She told Mrs May not to hide behind her or the Labour Party when she was "warned repeatedly about the damage her obsession with her net migration policy was doing".

Mrs May replied that nobody was trying to blame anyone else and repeated her explanation of how the "question of the Windrush generation arises" and her apology to them.

media captionYvette Cooper says Theresa May was "warned repeatedly about the damage about her obsession" with net migration

Lib Dem Leader Sir Vince Cable said that "if the Home Office cannot deal humanely and efficiently" with 50,000 UK residents of Caribbean origin then they will struggle to process millions of EU nationals' applications to live in the UK. He said the Home Office was now using data protection rules to cover up mistakes by the department so people cannot access their own case files.

Mrs May said that this accusation was "not correct" and that people still have access to their case files by the Home Office. The issue for the Windrush generation was more to do with their lack of documentary evidence, she added, and that would not be an issue for EU migrants, who are being encouraged to apply for settled status.

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The Verdicts

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

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

When you call for a resignation and your opponents break into a grin, you've overplayed your hand.

Jeremy Corbyn had posed a succession of effective questions to the PM on the Windrush fiasco. The PM, predictably, was well prepared for cross questioning on this issue, but sounded increasingly under pressure - until the moment when Mr Corbyn called for the home secretary to go.

Maybe the nuances of these exchanges don't matter too much, but it was a weak ending, after an effective build-up.

Plenty of other opposition MPs joined in the attack, with Home Affairs Committee Chair Yvette Cooper delivering a biting attack on Theresa May, not only denouncing the policy but accusing her of hiding behind others when the going got tough.

It was wounding stuff.

The Lib Dems' Vince Cable got in on the act, too, with a detailed question which accused the government of attempting to use data protection law to restrict access to individual immigration records.

Unusually, the PM sounded uncertain about a point of detail - but the incident suggested that Dr Cable has a touch of ex-ministers syndrome, a tendency to focus on micro-detail.

It had the merit of not being the same attack that had been rehearsed several times over, but it risked seeming bureaucratic.

Elsewhere, as predicted, there were several opportunities for Theresa May to reaffirm her position opposing the idea of the UK joining a post Brexit customs union with the EU, because that would foreclose the opportunity to reach new trade deals across the world.

Brexiteers Richard Drax and Julian Lewis will have received the reassurances they sought - but for me the most interesting answer was the one the PM gave to the SNP's Ian Blackford.

She conspicuously failed to answer his question about whether the government would accept a Commons vote which told it to negotiate to join a customs union - ministers will only confront that issue if it actually arises.

At the moment they hope they can avoid that contingency.

What pundits are saying on Twitter

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And finally, for podcast fans

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