Both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn began by offering congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their impending marriage, and thanks to the police officers – in the public gallery – who apprehended the murderer of MP Jo Cox.
Corbyn turned next to Brexit, asking when the prime minister said she wanted as little friction as possible, was she talking about EU trade or the next cabinet meeting?
May said her policy was to leave the customs union, having as frictionless trade as possible, no hard border in Ireland and an independent trade policy. She said a shadow minister in the Lords had voted for a second referendum, and a shadow aid minister tweeted in favour of one. Would Corbyn rule it out?
The Labour leader said there had been no progress in cabinet for five months. May said some people wanted the UK to forget about having an independent trade policy. And some said: don’t worry about the Irish border. Neither of those positions was a position of the government. There will be a white paper, she said.
Corbyn said the PM’s own position was not supported by the cabinet, quoting Rolls-Royce, Ford and Vauxhall all warning about the future of trade. Michael Gove said this week there were question marks over the PM’s customs model. But at least he did not call it crazy, as Boris Johnson did. If May can’t persuade her cabinet, then how can she persuade the EU?
May’s retort was that Corbyn said there wouldn’t be a deal before December. But there was.
There are record numbers of people on zero-hour contracts, Corbyn went on, and record numbers of people in poverty. He said the Dutch have…