Theresa May was mocked as a “interim prime minister” today as Labour MPs hammered her for losing her majority at the election and the subsequent cabinet infighting.
At the final prime minister’s questions before the summer recess, May was peppered with jokes about her lack of authority amid suggestions her time as Tory leader could end sooner rather than later.
Labour’s Glasgow North East MP Paul Sweeny made fun of May for having a “new found empathy for those in insecure work”.
“The prime minister will now know what it’s like to have a job but to lack job security, sometimes it can even bring a tear to the eye,” he said.
May revealed in an BBC interview last weak that she shed a tear when the general election exit poll was released.
Mike Gapes, another Labour backbencher, waved “goodbye” across the chamber at May as one Tory MP wished her a good holiday.
Former shadow cabinet minister Ian Murray attacked “interim prime minister” for refusing to answer questions about reports Philip Hammond, the “temporary chancellor”, had said some public sector workers were overpaid.
“Can she tell the House and the country and those public sector workers, which she thinks are overpaid, which ones she thinks are underpaid, and what she is going to do about it,” he asked.
Jeremy Corbyn also made fun of May for being unable to prevent leaks from rival members of the Cabinet.
“The chancellor said this week that some public servants are ‘overpaid’. Given the prime minister has had to administer a slapdown to her squabbling Cabinet, does she think the chancellor was actually talking about her own ministers?” he asked.
Yesterday May reprimanded her ministers and told them to end their in-fighting over Brexit and take their jobs “seriously”.
Replying to Corbyn today, May said the government “recognise the excellent work” done by public sector workers such as nurses, teachers and firefighters and the “sacrifice they and others have made over the last seven years”.
“We do balance being fair to public sector workers, protecting jobs and being fair to those who pay for them,” she said.
The prime minister attacked Corbyn for thinking “it’s possible to go around promising more money and promise nobody is ever going to have to pay for it”.
Over the weekend a series of leaks targeting Hammond led to reports he had said women could “even” become train drivers - a claim he denied.
And he is said to have told colleagues that public sector workers were overpaid compared with those in the private sector.
The chancellor has blamed the briefings against him on rival ministers opposed to his desire for a so-called soft Brexit.