And her weakness is more important than Jeremy Corbyn'sby Jay Elwes / September 14, 2016 / Leave a comment
And suddenly both leaders look frail. It makes a change.
At today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Theresa May had a dig at Jeremy Corbyn, pointing out to him that, as he faces a leadership contest and Parliament will soon stand for recess, this could be his last PMQs as Labour leader. It was a poor quip, and one delivered with little of the necessary lightness of touch.
An essentially weak leader, Corbyn will nevertheless return victorious later in the autumn. This would not turn him into an election-winner. Not remotely. But it will keep him in place.
Theresa May’s position has begun to look more problematic. In grammar schools, she seems to have found a policy capable of rousing even Jeremy Corbyn, who today showed a striking amount of passion. At one point, the normally rather phlegmatic Corbyn bellowed so loudly at the Prime Minister that the Conservative back benches gave an ironic, “Oooooh!”
Corbyn’s opposition aside, there are two central problems with the government’s plan to reintroduce grammar schools: first is the lack of evidence showing that they work; the second is the huge amount of evidence suggesting that they do not. Corbyn pressed May on this repeatedly in the chamber today. She deflected his attacks by pointing out that both she and Corbyn went to grammar schools—and look where it got us.
In a briefing after PMQs, a No10 spokesman was also unable to cite any evidence in support of grammars, and stressed that the plan was not simply to go back to the educational system of the 1950s. The idea is to develop something altogether new.
Most dangerously, May faces dissent among her own MPs, some of whom have been speaking to the press. Remember, her working majority in the Commons is only 17. It is not impossible that May will lose a Commons vote on the return of grammar schools. A defeat of this kind would be shattering for her administration. It would also give a huge boost to Corbyn.
An even greater weakness is Brexit. May didn’t vote for it, her MPs didn’t want…