Theresa May’s PMQs ‘jokes’ fall flat in the Commons… and beyond
Watch: The prime minister still has work to do on her stand-up routine.
Theresa May today angered Labour MPs and also failed to impress Westminster journalists with a brace of pre-scripted jokes at Prime Minister’s Questions.
The prime minister first mocked Jeremy Corbyn after he had attacked the failure of councils to replace homes sold off under Right to Buy. The Labour leader had asked: “Will the prime minister give a commitment for the one-to-one replacement and when it will be a reality?”
May responded by disputing Corbyn's figures. She then referred witheringly to responses that he had got on Twitter when he asked his followers what he should ask at PMQs.
“I have to say the first one was quite good, he might want to make sure he stays sitting down...”
After Corbyn stayed on housing, May was keen to shoehorn a train joke in.
“It may be he just has an ideological objection to the private rented sector. What this government is doing is ensuring we look across the board to see more houses built....
“This just shows us everything we need to know about modern Labour - the train's left the station, the seats are all empty, the leader's on the floor.
“Even on rolling stock they're a laughing stock."
Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth immediately criticised May for telling “silly jokes when asked serious questions”, while his colleague Ben Bradshaw said that the jokes were “terrible and badly delivered”.
Lobby journalists were also unimpressed, with The Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow saying the jibes “came over as unprovoked, gratuitous and consequently rather cheap”.
He added: “It was reminiscent of David Cameron’s Bullingdon aggro, but Cameron found a way of at least making his attacks sound relevant.”
On Twitter, The Spectator's Isabel Hardman said that the "pre-scripted jokes don;t sound confident enough" , while Mail Online’s Matt Dathan suggested that the gags would not look good on TV.
Conservative supporters also joined in the criticisms. The leading Tory commentator Tim Montgomerie warned the prime minister against “cracking too many not-so-great jokes” while Tory activist and blogger George Reeves agreed that May should "should steer clear of forced jokes".