Jeremy Corbyn ‘wins’ PMQs with sustained focus on grammar schools
Even resolutely anti-Corbyn MPs were cheered by today's performance in the chamber.
A fired-up Jeremy Corbyn launched a vigorous attack on Theresa May’s plans for more grammar schools as the pair went head-to-head at Prime Minister’s Questions today.
For once, the Labour leader chose to focus all six of his question on the same subject – and lobby journalists agreed that the approach had resulted in his best PMQs performance "for ages".
Corbyn began by saying that the prime minister's plans had united the entire education profession in opposition - and by challenging May to name “any experts” who agreed with her approach. The Labour benches were then cheered as May responded without naming a single expert.
The Labour leader also failed to get an answer when he asked: “Will the children in these feeder primaries get an automatic place in the grammar school, or will they be subject to selection?”
After May later claimed that Corbyn was "casting his mind back to the 1950s,” the Labour leader had a robust response.
He said: “The two things she and I have in common are we can both remember the 1950s and we can both remember going to a grammar school. My point is this: every child should have the best possible education they can possibly have. We don’t need, and don’t have to divide children at 11.”
Having previously struggled to think on his feet at PMQs, Corbyn then reacted sharply after May argued that “it is the Labour party who will take the advantages of a good education for themselves and pull up the ladder for other people”.
The Labour leader hit back: “It’s not about pulling up ladders; it’s about providing ladders for every child.”
Corbyn’s performance was applauded by lobby journalists, with BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg calling it “his most effective for ages” and many others calling it a rare win for the Labour leader.
Even some of Corbyn’s opponents on the Labour benches were happy. Reflecting on the clash, Ilford MP Mike Gapes conceded that the Labour leader was "better than usual" and Simon Danczuk said he was "doing well". Which is high praise indeed.