UK

Jeremy Corbyn Derided For Failing To Land Fatal Blow On Tories Over Major Budget U-Turn

'Presented with an open goal, Corbyn picks up a tennis racket.'

15/03/2017 14:29 GMT | Updated 15/03/2017 17:13 GMT

Jeremy Corbyn sparked fury and complaints of presiding over one of the biggest missed opportunities in House of Commons history for his response to a massive Budget U-turn by the Tories.

There was huge pressure on Corbyn to score an open goal when he sparred with Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions today.

Just 20 minutes before they met, the Government announced it was dropping a rise in National Insurance after a rebellion by Tory MPs who complained it breached the party’s 2015 manifesto.

JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
Philip Hammond announced the measure last week

But Corbyn’s performance was widely derided - by both Labour and Conservative MPs - while Yvette Cooper, whom Corbyn beat to the leadership in 2015, was instead hailed today as the real voice of opposition.

Corbyn had started by calling the Budget U-turn a “a bit of chaos” but failed to actually ask a question, instead saying the Tories should “thank ... all those who have pointed out just how bad this increase should [sic] be”. 

He had six chances to ask questions...

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour’s MP for Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland, vented his frustration on Twitter afterwards that “serious questions about holding the Government to account”.

Mike Gapes, another Labour MP, also laid into Corbyn’s performance, re-tweeting a comment that described the leader’s performance as “poor” and a GIF of ex-West Bromwich Albion forward Nwankwo Kanu’s famous howler: 

There were other football “open-goal” metaphors posted.

Gapes also praised former minister and Labour leadership-hopeful Yvette Cooper for her fierce attack on the Government’s U-turn.

Cooper hammered home a brutal attack on the Tories for repeatedly “ripping up” their Budgets.

She asked in PMQs:

The Prime Minister has just done a £2bn Budget U-turn in the space of a week. Last year the government did a £4bn U-turn in the space of five days. Is that why they want to abolish spring Budgets? Because they just keep ripping them up?

Cooper was praised by many commentators, as well as her colleagues.

There was a stark contrast between the number of Labour MPs praising Corbyn and Cooper. 

Labour’s former director of communications in Downing Street, Alistair Campbell, also gave a dire analysis:

Tory MP Tim Loughton also asked a question referencing the Ides of March, a date marked in the Roman Calendar as 15 March on which Julius Caesar’s assassination by Brutus.

“Today marks the Ides of March, and yet again Brutus opposite missed horribly,” Loughton said.

A Labour source remained resolute about Corbyn’s performance, telling The Huffington Post UK: “Jeremy is his own kind of leader. And he’s demonstrated a new kind of political leadership.”

Corbyn’s spokesman also reportedly told journalists: “I think he asked the questions he wanted to ask.”

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