Theresa May plays the realpolitik card as Jeremy Corbyn attacks at PMQs
‘He can lead a protest, I'm leading a country!’
Jeremy Corbyn opened up this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions with a recommendation that Theresa May reads the late Tam Dalyell's autobiography, titled ‘The importance of being awkward’.
The Labour leader then did his best to heap further pressure on the prime minister over her dealings with Donald Trump.
In an uncharacteristically snappy opening question, he asked: “At last week’s PMQs, the prime minister told the House 'I’m not afraid to speak frankly to the President of the United States'. What happened?"
Corbyn went on to demand that Trump’s state visit invite be withdrawn.
"He’s praised the use of torture; he’s incited hatred against Muslims; he’s directly attacked women’s rights. What more does President Trump have to do before the PM will listen to the 1.8m people who have already called for his state visit invitation to be withdrawn?"
For much of the exchange, the Labour leader had the upper hand. But the prime minister finally hit back by stressing the realpolitik of the situation.
"The Right Honourable Gentleman's foreign policy is to object to and insult the democratically elected head of state of our most important ally.
"Let's just see what he would have achieved... Would he have been able to protect British citizens from the impact of the executive order? No! Would he have been able to lay the foundation of the trade deal? No! Would he have got a 100% commitment to Nato? No!"
And she closed with a zinger: "He can lead a protest, I'm leading a country."
But there was more to come for May, with Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds emphatically taking up where his leader left off.
He told the prime minister: "Your responses today have been deeply unsatisfactory. The president of the United States has advocated torture, misogyny, racial discrimination, sexual assault, isolationism. The leaders of Canada and Germany were able to respond robustly, but your response was to jump on a plane as soon as possible to hold his hand.
"Mr Speaker, doesn’t this country deserve a leader who's willing to stand up for British values?"