Jeremy Corbyn has mocked Theresa May’s “threadbare” Queen’s Speech which was delivered today shorn of her most high profile manifesto commitments.
The prime minister this morning unveiled a legislative agenda which did not include previous plans to expand grammar schools, means-test winter fuel payments or legalising fox hunting.
Speaking for over half an hour in the Commons, Corbyn savaged the May for Tory austerity policies and her election disaster, with one Labour MP enthusiastically shouting “go on Jez”.
May, who has been under intense internal Tory pressure after losing the party its majority at the election, was cheered by her backbenchers when she rose to speak.
Backbench Labour MPs, most of whom had severe doubts about Corbyn’s leadership, were in a more boisterous mood than before the election and shouted “resign” across the chamber at the prime minister.
Toby Perkins poked fun at May’s diminished political stature as compared to the Labour leader. “Has she shrunk or has he grown?” Perkins asked.
Wes Streeting asked May: “Given that she asked for a personal mandate and didn’t get one, why is she still here?”
And Kevin Brennan called May the “interim prime minister”, a reference to suggestions she could be ousted by her backbenchers.
John Bercow also admonished May for suggesting Perkins’ question did not deserve an answer. “it did,” he said.
Unusually, the government proposed a policy agenda that will run for two years rather than just one.
Corbyn told MPs it was a “threadbare legislative programme from a government that has lost its majority and apparently run out of ideas altogether.
“This would be a thin legislative programme even if it was for one year but for two years? There’s not enough in it to fill up one year.”
May defended herself against accusations her government had not proposed enough legislation. “Not every problem can be solved by an act of Parliament,” she said.
The Labour leader said it was he, rather than May, who was “ready to offer real strong an stable leadership in the interest of the many not the few”.
“Labour won almost 13 million votes at the election because we offered hope and opportunity for all and real change for our country,” Corbyn said.
“The prime minister began the election campaign by warning that: ‘If I lose just six seats I will lose this election’. When it came to it, she lost more than four times that many seats to Labour.”
Corbyn, listing seats won by Labour on June 8, added: “From Cardiff to Canterbury, from Stockton to Kensington, people chose hope over fear. And they sent an unequivocal message: that austerity must be brought to an end.”
Of 27 Bills and draft bills unveiled in her first Queen’s Speech, eight are devoted to the complex process of withdrawal from the EU, including a Repeal Bill to overturn the 1972 Act which took Britain into the European Economic Community and separate Bills on customs, trade, immigration, fisheries, agriculture, nuclear safeguards and the international sanctions regime.
Speculation that Donald Trump’s state visit may be ditched was fuelled by its absence from the speech.
But Downing Street said that the invitation to the US President stands and said it did not feature because a date is yet to be fixed.
May has yet to finalise a deal with the DUP that would see its 10 MPs support her minority Tory government.
Damian Green, the first secretary of state who serves effectively as deputy prime minister, said earlier today a deal was still “entirely possible”.