PMQs goes back in time as leaders clash over NHS and the economy

Written by David Singleton on 22 February 2017 in Diary

It was almost like Ed Miliband and David Cameron had returned.

Ed Miliband never confirmed that he told the BBC’s political editor that he wanted to “weaponise” the NHS.

But he did raise the topic again and again at Prime Minister’s Questions, often declaring that the NHS in England was “at breaking point” and that “you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS”.

And again and again, David Cameron would hit back by doing his best to shift the focus to the economy.

“You can only have a strong NHS if you have a strong economy,” insisted the then prime minister in one typical 2014 exchange.





Fast forward two and a half years and the pattern is repeating itself at PMQs.

The NHS should be a winning topic right now for Labour, not least with Theresa May having recently refused four times to oppose the closure of maternity services at a hospital in Copeland.

So in the last PMQs before the Copeland by-election, Jeremy Corbyn wisely went in on his rival’s Achilles heel.

The Labour leader accused the Tories of pushing up waiting lists, closing A&E units and leaving the health and care systems in a “state of emergency”.

But the economy remains a Tory trump card. So May responded in much the same way as her predecessor did:

“What the NHS needs is more doctors, we’re giving it more doctors! What the NHS needs is more funding, we’re giving it more funding!

“What it does not need is a bankrupt economy which is exactly what Labour would give it!”

As Sky News political editor Faisal Islam put it, their exchanges "could have been cloned from 2013, 2014, or 2015".







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