Angela Eagle goads George Osborne at PMQs: Where did all the Brexiteers go?
Jeremy Corbyn's stand-in once again rallied the Labour troops with her trademark deadpan humour.
Shadow first secretary of state Angela Eagle did her best to exploit Tory splits over Europe as she stood in for Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions today.
The Labour frontbencher was applauded by fellow MPs for a "bravura" and "truly amazing" performance as she made her PMQs debut at the end of last year.
This time around, Eagle - who has been touted as the next Labour leader - did not quite manage a repeat performance. However, she still managed to boost the morale of colleagues with a strong showing at the despatch box.
Eagle put the chancellor in an awkward spot by asking if he agreed with the Brexit-supporting Tory minister Priti Patel or with Unite boss Len McCluskey on the need to protect workers’ rights.
And Eagle deployed her trademark deadpan humour after observing that leading Conservatives who back leaving the EU were missing from the front bench.
“They are fighting a bitter proxy war over the leadership of their own party. I notice no ‘Outer’ - all the Brexiteers have been banished,” she said.
After Michael Gove then popped up his head from beside the Speaker’s chair, Eagle responded swiftly:
“It’s nice to see the justice secretary here. I think the chancellor’s put the rest of his Brexit colleagues in detention.”
Later in the session, there was fresh evidence of Tory acrimony over the impending EU referendum as Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin accused Osborne of trying to “bludgeon the British voter” into voting Remain.
Conservative MP Anne Main then used a point of order to express her fury that ministers had yet to respond to her written queries over Europe.
She fumed: “They are trying to muzzle us who are trying to get to the truth of all this. They are trying to just make sure we do not get any answers. The Government is acting disgracefully and I am ashamed at their behaviour in this way.”
During PMQs, Osborne played down Tory splits on the subject.
He said: “I don't think it's any great revelation that different Conservative MPs have different views on the EU that's why we're having a referendum because this issue does divide parties, families and friends and we made a commitment in our manifesto that the British people would decide this question,”
He also sought to exploit the news that Labour MPs Andy Burnham, Steve Rotheram and Luciana Berger were bidding for elected mayoralships, He jibed:
“They are like rats deserting a sinking ships… When we said we were creating job opportunities we didn’t mean job opportunities for the whole shadow cabinet
“They’re like a parliamentary party on day release. They know the Member for Islington will be back and it’s four more years of hard labour.”