Theresa May uses the first Prime Minister’s Questions of her term to torment the opposition Labour party as it enters a leadership battle. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
New British PM May lays into opposition during debut grilling
STORY: Theresa May used her first parliamentary grilling as Britain’s new prime minister on Wednesday (July 20) to taunt the opposition over Labour’s internal divisions and leadership squabbles which threaten to split the party.
After a week of many firsts, May made her most closely watched debut, taking to the floor in parliament to lead the combative centrepiece of the British political week: Prime Minister’s Questions.
May was appointed to Britain’s top job a week ago after David Cameron resigned following the country’s vote to quit the European Union, leaving her the difficult task of uniting the Conservative party and negotiating an exit from the bloc.
She won loud cheers from the Conservative Party benches in the debating chamber as she stood to face the daunting array of questions usually leveled at the prime minister during the 30-minute grilling, which can range from major foreign policy issues to parochial affairs.
May, who styles herself as a down-to-earth, unflashy leader, kicked off her remarks in the house by welcoming a drop in unemployment and setting out plans to visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.
Under fire opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, asked May about previous remarks made by her and her newly appointed foreign minister Boris Johnson on race.
She defended her record as home secretary and austerity politics – she said that her government had not abandoned its intentions to move to a budget surplus, just not by the end of this term in parliament.
But she also picked up where Cameron left off last week, laying into the opposition party leader, who is locked in a bitter internal power struggle for the party leadership, after Corbyn asked her about people’s job insecurity across Britain.
“I’m interested that he refers to the situation of some workers who might have some job insecurity and potentially unscrupulous bosses. I suspect that there are many members on the opposition benches who are familiar with an unscrupulous boss. A boss who doesn’t listen to his workers. A boss who requires some of his workers to double their workload. Maybe even a boss, who exploits the rules to further his own career. Remind him of any body?,” she said, to huge cheers from her own party while Labour backbenchers sat in silence behind Corbyn.
She added: “The Labour Party may be about to spend several months fighting and tearing itself apart. The Conservative Party will be spending those months bringing this country back together.”
Often the only taste of parliamentary business that members of the public regularly get, the box-office drama known colloquially as PMQs is seen as a barometer of how well party leaders are doing and they are known to spend hours preparing.
Cameron made his final appearance at PMQS last week with a relaxed and jokey performance that focused on mocking Corbyn and defining his legacy, before receiving a standing ovation as he left the chamber.