Is this the most embarrassing #PMQs answer ever?


The SKWAWKBOX has already covered last week’s PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions), in which Jeremy Corbyn took Theresa May to pieces on the government-created NHS ‘humanitarian crisis’ and Mrs May chose to ‘thank’ the Red Cross for bailing out sinking hospitals by calling them ‘irresponsible’. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, clearly.

But one passage from that exchange bears individual scrutiny because it may be the most embarrassing ‘answer’ to a question ever – and is certainly ‘up there’ in this writer’s experience.

Jeremy Corbyn – even in the eyes of some right-wing commentators – has been regularly ‘winning’ PMQs for a long time now. Most would say he’s been wiping the floor with Theresa May, who has been ever quicker to resort to insults and cheap jibes in an attempt to retain some semblance of control.

But on Wednesday she looked like a deer in the headlights and some of her answers were suggested blind panic. Especially this one:

Jeremy Corbyn:
We all thank NHS staff and we all praise NHS staff, but the Prime Minister’s Government are proposing, through sustainability and transformation, to cut one third of the beds in all of our hospitals in the very near future. On Monday, she spoke about mental health and doing more to help people, particularly young people, with those conditions, which I welcome, except that last night the BBC revealed that, over five years, there had been an 89% increase in young people with mental health issues having to go to A&E departments. Does she not agree that the £1.25 billion committed to child and adolescent mental health in 2015 should have been ring-fenced rather than used as a resource to be raided to plug other holes in other budgets in the NHS?

Theresa May:
[blah we’re doing great blah]..When I was in Aldershot on Monday, I spoke to service users with mental health problems who said that they did not want to go to A&E.

Nobody wants people with mental health conditions to go to A&E departments—the A&E departments do not want them to go there.

Which you could paraphrase more concisely as:

“More young people than ever are having to take their mental health problem to A&E – what are you going to do?”

“I’ve spoken to them and they don’t want to go there.”


So flustered she was barely coherent, let alone relevant. If Theresa May has any self-awareness – which should not be taken for granted – this exchange will haunt her dreams for many years to come.

And it’s time the media stopped trying to pretend PMQs bears the remotest resemblance to a draw and gave Corbyn the credit his statemanlike bearing deserves. Don’t hold your breath, though.

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