PMQs: May and Corbyn set out election ‘choices’

26 Apr

Jeremy Corbyn asking a question at the last PMQs before the electionImage copyright

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The Labour leader addressed a series of questions from members of the public to the prime minister

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn clashed over the “choice” facing voters in the final PMQs before the general election.

The PM claimed a win for Labour would mean a “chaotic Brexit” but Mr Corbyn said the Tories were “strong against the weak and weak against the strong”.

Mrs May also declined to confirm the so-called triple lock on the state pensions would be kept in place.

The SNP’s Angus Robertson, who raised the issue, said the PM’s answers showed she planned to “ditch” the commitment.

The triple lock, which has been in place since 2010, guarantees that pensions rise by the same as average earnings, the consumer price index, or 2.5%, whichever is the highest.

With a general election looming on 8 June, the exchange could have been the last between Mrs May and Mr Corbyn.

And it is thought to have been the longest on record, lasting for about 58 minutes, as Commons Speaker John Bercow allowed MPs stepping down at the election to ask questions.

‘All people’

Mr Corbyn opted to read out questions from members of the public, about low wages, house prices, school spending and the NHS, reverting to an approach he used regularly in his first months as leader.

Millions of people were struggling to “make ends meet” following seven years of austerity, he claimed, while lack of investment in housing had led to the lowest levels of house building for 90 years.

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The SNP leader in Westminster said the Conservatives could not be trusted on pensions

“The election on 8 June is a choice…between a Conservative government for the few and a Labour government that will stand up for all of our people,” he said.

Pension exchange

The PM defended the government’s record and repeatedly said the Conservatives offered “strong and stable” leadership.

She contrasted this with what she said was her opponent’s “refusal to say he would strike against terrorism, to commit to our nuclear deterrent and to control our borders”.

“Every vote for him is a vote to weaken our economy. Every vote for me is a vote for a strong economy with the benefits felt by everyone across the country,” she said.

Responding to Mr Robertson’s question about pensions, Mrs May declined to give a guarantee over future spending but insisted “pensioner incomes” would continue to increase under the Conservatives.

The SNP MP said the prime minister had failed to answer a “simple question”, adding that “the only reason they will not guarantee it is because they want to cut pensions”.

Labour has pledged to retain the triple lock, although the policy has been criticised by MPs as being financially “unsustainable” and an independent review last year said it should be reconsidered.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron used his question to criticise both the two main parties, claiming the Conservatives “had “never been nastier” while Labour was the most incompetent opposition in history.

The formal business of Parliament will end on Thursday ahead of its official dissolution next week.

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