PMQs LIVE - 10/7/19

- Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn paid tribute to Sir Kim Darroch, who quit as UK ambassador to the UK just minutes before PMQs amid a bitter row with Donald Trump.

- The pair also clashed over legal aid cuts - while the PM attacked Jeremy Corbyn over anti-semitism.

10/07/19 Reverse order Timestamp format

  1. Hello and welcome to another edition of the PoliticsHome PMQs liveblog!

    We're here to bring you a blow-by-blow account as Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn go head-to head in the House of Commons.

    MF Matt Foster
  2. Here are all the MPs down to ask Theresa May a question at PMQs today....

    MF Matt Foster

    The usual mid-2019 caveats apply to this week's PMQs: it's an outgoing prime minister who won't comment on the race to replace her squaring off against a Labour leader whose own position on Brexit means it's difficult for him to raise the major issue of the day. Oh, and not many Tory MPs bother to turn up anymore...

    That said, Jeremy Corbyn may try and get Theresa May to comment on Boris Johnson's refusal to rule out proroguing Parliament to try and force a no-deal Brexit. The Labour leader often flags the potential economic impact of a no-deal and tries to drive a wedge between Cabinet ministers for their conflicting statements on such an outcome - so a plan that's already come under fire from Sir John Major this morning is safe ground.

    Sticking with the international focus, Corbyn could indulge in a bit of Donald Trump bashing and ask May to do more to defend Sir Kim Darroch, the under-fire UK ambassador at the heart of the leaked cables row. Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt are very much on a different page on this one, so there are Cabinet divisions to be exploited.

    There's an Urgent Question on Universal Credit after PMQs, so it's unlikely the Labour leader will flag a shocking BBC story about a multi-billion pound scam facing claimants. But Corbyn often goes for the domestic angle, so we could see him ask why the Government hasn't already spent all the billions on public services and infrastructure being bandied about by the Conservative hopefuls.

    There's also a chance Corbyn could ask about the Conservative Party's handling of Islamophobia after a poll this week showed that a majority of Tory members believe Islam is "generally a threat to the British way of life". But given tonight's BBC Panorama documentary on Labour's struggles with anti-Semitism is very much looming, it's a subject he might well stay clear of.

    In summary: some questions may be asked about some subjects, we can reveal.

    MF Matt Foster

    The UK's ambassador to the US has just resigned after leaked cables on Donald Trump sparked a major diplomatic row.

    Sir Kim Darroch said: “Since the leak of official documents from this Embassy there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding my position and the duration of my remaining term as ambassador. I want to put an end to that speculation. The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like.

    “Although my posting is not due to end until the end of this year, I believe in the current circumstances the responsible course is to allow the appointment of a new ambassador.

    “I am grateful to all those in the UK and the US, who have offered their support during this difficult few days. This has brought home to me the depth of friendship and close ties between our two countries. I have been deeply touched.

    “I am also grateful to all those with whom I have worked over the last four decades, particularly my team here in the US. The professionalism and integrity of the British civil service is the envy of the world. I will leave it full of confidence that its values remain in safe hands.”

    In response to Sir Kim’s letter, Foreign Office Permanent Secretary Sir Simon McDonald wrote:

    “On behalf of the Diplomatic Service, I accept your resignation with deep personal regret.

    “Over the last few difficult days you have behaved as you have always behaved over a long and distinguished career, with dignity, professionalism and class. The Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and whole of the public service have stood with you: you were the target of a malicious leak; you were simply doing your job. I understand your wish to relieve the pressure on your family and your colleagues at the Embassy; I admire the fact that you think more of others than yourself. You demonstrate the essence of the values of British public service."

    MF Matt Foster
  5. Theresa May says it is a matter of "great regret" that Sir Kim Darroch has agreed to resign. She says he has given a "lifetime of service to the UK".

    "Mr Speaker, this morning I have spoken to Sir Kim Darroch. I have told him that it is a matter of great regret that he has felt it necessary to leave his position as Ambassador in Washington.

    "The whole Cabinet rightly gave its full support to Sir Kim on Tuesday.

    "Sir Kim has given a lifetime of service to the UK and we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. Good government depends on public servants being able to give full and frank advice.

    "I want all our public servants to have the confidence to be able to do that. I hope the House will reflect on the importance of defending our values and principles, particularly when they are under pressure."

    MF Matt Foster
  6. Theresa May says the UK should defend the "values and principles" of officials giving free and frank advice.

    MF Matt Foster
  7. Labour's Alex Sobel says the government needs proper policies to deliver her zero carbon climate change target and urges her to ditch opposition to onshore wind. May says the government has an "excellent" record and is "on track" to meet carbon targets. "The UK is leading the world on climate change," she says.

    MF Matt Foster
  8. Tory Jack Brereton asks for the PMs support to open a local station to ease car use. May says the area is going to get fancy new trains - and says the DfT will have heard his plea.

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    Jeremy Corbyn says he regrets the "beyond unfair and wrong" treatment of Sir Kim Darroch.

    He then moves on to the PM's 'burning injustices' legacy. Does she agree that access to justice is vital to tackling those injustices?

    "I to regret the resignation of Sir Kim Darroch. I think the comments made about him are beyond unfair and wrong. I think he has given honourable and good service and he should be thanked for it.

    "And I think the whole House should join together in deeply regretting the feeling that he has obviously got that he must resign at this moment.

    "Mr Speaker, many people welcomed the powerful points the Prime Minister made when she was first appointed about burning injustices in Britain. Does she agree with me that access to justice is vital in order to tackle burning injustices?"

    MF Matt Foster

    Theresa May points to the race disparity audit to "shine a light" on injustice in public services.

    "There are many burning injustices which can be tackled in a variety of ways, and that is the action I have taken, not just as Prime Minister but also as Home Secretary and I will give him one example.

    "The race disparity audit, which shines a light on inequality in public services is enabling us to put into place action that helps to ensure that people across this country, whatever their background, will ensure they have access to the public services they need."

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    Jeremy Corbyn says legal aid is meant to give all people access to justice - an 'essential pillar' of the welfare state. But Tory/Lib Dems cuts has led to a shrinking of law centres and the creation of legal aid 'deserts'. Has that hindered the fight against burning injustices?

    "Mr Speaker, this year marks the seventieth anniversary of the legal aid and advice act. That act introduced by the post-war Labour government gave all people access to justice, not just the rich. And was an essential pillar of a welfare state and a decent society.

    "The Tory-Lib Dem coalition slashed legal aid in 2013, and the results are clearly very unfair. The number of Law Centers and other not-for-profit legal aid providers has more than halved.

    "There are now legal aid deserts across the whole country. Does the PM think that has helped or hindered the fight against burning injustices?"

    MF Matt Foster

    Theresa May says 'burning injustices' is not just about access to the legal system. She gets testy as opposition frontbenchers heckle her and then says Labour should have done more to tackle society's problems.

    "The point I was making to the Rt Hon Gentleman which he seems to fail to recognise is that the whole question of burning injustices is not about just access to the legal system.

    "The question of dealing with... If the Labour Party had really cared about burning injustices, they would have done a damn sight more when they were in power to deal with them."

    MF Matt Foster

    Corbyn says the Conservatives have "short memories" - and flags the government's u-turn on employment tribunal fees. He raises the case of Marcus, a 71-year-old on pension credit who is threatened with eviction - and is working every night to collect evidence to challenge the decision. Doesn't Marcus deserve legal aid to ensure proper representation?

    "Mr Speaker, some people have very short memories. It was the Tory - Lib Dem coalition which cut legal aid, but also brought in fees for employment tribunals. The then minister for employment relations, the honourable member for East Dunbartonshire piloted that through the House. But since that time, my union Unison took the government to court and won, and as a result employment fees were cancelled.

    "The cuts to legal aid affect people, like Marcus, a seventy-one year old on pension credit, a leaseholder who is threatened with being evicted. And he says, and I quote: "I have paid taxes and National Insurance all my life. How is it right that I am being bullied and threatened with homelessness. The state won't protect me."

    And he goes on to say: "I have been working until 2am every night for the past six month collecting evidence. I've got not idea if I've prepared my evidence correctly."

    "Doesn't Marcus, trying to save his own home, deserve legal aid to get proper representation in a court and be fairly heard?"

    MF Matt Foster

    The PM says a quarter of the Ministry of Justice budget is spent on legal aid - but that is only "one part of the picture". She says the government is doing a "fundamental review" of criminal legal aid.

    But, she says, it's important that the Government is "careful" with what it spends on legal aid.

    "Obviously I recognise the concerns that Marcus has about taking his case, but the Rt Hon Gentleman might reflect on the fact that a quarter of the Ministry of Justice's budget is spent on legal aid.

    "We spent £1.6bn on legal aid last year. We are committing to ensuring that people can access the help they need into the future. But that is only one part of the picture. We've published a plan for legal support to maintain and improve access to support for those in need.

    "And we are conducting a fundamental review of criminal legal aid fee schemes, which will consider criminal legal aid throughout the life-cycle of a criminal case.

    "So there are aspects of this issue that we are indeed looking at. But I think it is important that we ensure that we are careful with the provisions that we make for legal aid, and as I say a quarter of the MoJ budget is spent on legal aid."

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    Corbyn flags Labour's pledges to restore legal aid and end the leasehold "scandal".

    He now moves onto the DWP - and says money is being wasted defending the department from appeals.

    "Just so everyone is aware of it, Labour is committed to restoring legal aid funding for family law, for housing, for benefit appeals, for judicial review preparation, for inquests and real action on immigration cases. And as we announced yesterday, we will end the leasehold scandal.

    "The DWP is failing disabled people, the Ministry of Justice spents tens of millions of pounds each year defending appeals. Over two-thirds of which were won by the claimant.

    "Rather than spending millions spending incorrect and often immoral decisions, wouldn't that money be better used increasing poverty level benefits and providing legal aid to people wrongly denied their basic dignity."

    MF Matt Foster

    Theresa May says she will take "no lessons" from Labour on disabled people. She says if Labour is really interested in tackling injustices they should "deal with anti-semitism".

    "I am not going to take any lectures from Labour on what this government has done for disabled people. We are committed to tackling the injustices facing disabled people so everyone can go as far as their talents take them.

    "Our spending on support for disabled people and people with health conditions is at a record high. We are seeing many more people, more than 900,000 more disabled people in work as a result of what this government has done.

    "But if the Rt Hon Gentleman is really interested in tackling injustice, then the biggest injustice he should tackle is in his own Labour Party and deal with anti-semitism."

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    Jeremy Corbyn says Labour is "totally" committed to wiping out anti-semitism - and urges the PM to launch an inquiry into Tory Islamophobia.

    He then flags the Windrush scandal - and asks the PM if it would have happened if legal aid hadn't been slashed so drastically?

    "Mr Speaker, my party is totally committed to eliminating racism in any form, anti-semitism in any form and while she is about the lecturing, how about the investigation into Islamophobia in her own party?

    "One lecture she might not want to take from me, but she might care to listen to what the United Nations said when they, and I quote: "Condemned the UK government for its grave and systematic violations of the rights of disabled people."

    "The Windrush scandal has resulted in the Government having to allocate £200m in compensation to people wrongly deported from this country. Denied services and their lives totally pulled apart.

    "People who had given their live to this country and our services. Does the Prime Minister think that scandal would have happened if legal aid had not been slashed by the government so that many of those people were denied representation in court?"

    MF Matt Foster

    Theresa May says she has been "very clear" and apologised for the Windrush "mistakes".

    But, the PM points out, some people were deported under Labour.

    Now she goes on the attack, saying Labour campaigns against anti-semitism and NDAs but makes staff raising issues sign them.

    Then she quotes (Groucho) Marx to accuse him of having no principles.

    "The Rt Hon Gentleman really needs to think more carefully about his arguments. Lets look about the issue of people in the Windrush generation. I have apologised for what happened to people in the Windrush generation. I have been very clear that they are British, they are here, they have a right to be here and this should not have happened.

    "We have apologised for the mistakes that have been made. But he raised the issue of people who were incorrectly deported. The initial historic review has found that there were around 11,800 detentions and removals which they looked at.

    "They identified 18 people who were most likely to have been wrongly deported and removed. Of those, six were removed or detained under the last Labour government. And I say to the Rt Hon Gentleman, the way he talks you would think he was a man of principle. But what do we actually see from him?

    "Labour policy is to bad non-disclosure agreements, but his staff has to sign them. He was an anti-racist, now he ignores anti-semitism. He has been a Eurosceptic all his life, now he backs Remain.

    "He is truly living up to the words of Marx. Those are my principles and if you don't like them, I've got others.

    "I know the Rt Hon Gentleman is keen to get to the dispatch box when the name Marx is mentioned but I was merely going to point out that those were the words not of Karl, but of Groucho."

    MF Matt Foster

    A very angry Jeremy Corbyn goes on the attack - he says the Tories "consorts with" and "sucks up" to racists around the world. And he pins the blame for Windrush squarely on the PM's shoulders.

    Corbyn then raises 'invisible' people who are being hit by legal aid cuts. There is 'no justice' without equal access to justice, he argues. Isn't that a disgrace?

    "Coming from the Prime Minister who created the hostile environment which brought about the Windrush scandal, who ordered Go Home vans to drive around London, who refuses to acknowledge Islamophobia in her own party, and whose party consorts with racists and anti-semites in the European Parliament and sucks up to those governments across Europe.

    "We don't need those kind of lectures. One legal aid firm said we see more people, more desperate and in more extreme need that they were five years ago. There is no where to send them. Those people are invisible to the system.

    "This is a denial of people's basic rights. The UN says legal aid cuts have overwhelmingly affected the poor and people with disabilities. Without access to justice there is no justice.

    "Today, in modern Britain millions are denied justice because they don't have the money. Isn't that a disgrace? Isn't that a burning injustice?"

    MF Matt Foster

    Theresa May goes in on anti-semitism again. She quotes former general secretary Lord Triesman, who resigned yesterday with a blast at anti-Jewish abuse in Labour. She says it's an "injustice" to force people to pay more tax to play for Labour's spending plans. She says Labour's new slogan is "Tax, Tax, Tax, Injustice, Injustice".

    "He may do his best to ignore the anti-semitism in his party, but I think he should listen to the words of the former Labour party general secretary, the noble Lord Triesman, who said: "We may one day be the party of anti-racism once again. But it certainly isn't today."

    "He has asked questions about injustice, let me tell him about an injustice. It's an injustice when you force people who are working hard, day and night, to earn an income for their family, to pay more taxes because of a Labour party economic party in government which has led to the destruction of our economy.

    "What do we see from the Labour party? You earn more, they want you to pay more tax. You buy a home, they want you to pay more tax. You want to leave something to your children, they want you to pay more tax. Labour's £9bn family tax. Labour used to have a slogan of education, education, education, now it is just tax, tax, tax, injustice, injustice, injustice."

    MF Matt Foster
  21. Tory Kirstene Hair says the SNP is running public services into the ground North of the Border and says the party should "prioritise" the interests of Scotland. May says the SNP claims Scotland is being ignored - but argues its the government there ignoring its people to focus on a referendum.

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  22. The SNP's Ian Blackford gets his first question in. Says every time the PM speaks the SNP's vote in Scotland goes up.

    He pays tribute to the "unbelievable" sacrifice of those who died in the Srebrinica massacre.

    He has a pop at Jeremy Hunt, claiming he did not stand up for Sir Kim Darroch before he quit as US ambassador.

    Moving onto the economy, Blackford flags warnings on the "dark clouds" of Brexit. Will the PM keep ignoring all the warning signs, he asks?

    May says she hopes humanity will learn from Srebrenica.

    On the UK economy, May says Britain has the "best record" in the G7.

    MF Matt Foster
  23. The SNP's Ian Blackford counters, saying there's rising foodbank use and falling foreign investment in the UK. Car production and retail sales are also suffering, he says. He says the PM's legacy will be "driving the UK economy over the cliff" to please Brexiteers. He urges her to "take no-deal off the table".

    May says Blackford failed to mention an electric vehicle pledge from Jaguar Land Rover and good news from BMW.

    She says he could have taken no deal off the table by backing her Brexit deal.

    MF Matt Foster
  24. Tory MP Chris Green is up next.

    He flags a recent local success in winning some high street funding.

    Theresa May says that's an "excellent" point.

    MF Matt Foster
  25. Labour's Alex Cunningham raises the county lines scandal and the impact it has on children. Councils don't have plans to tackle it, he warns - and he urges the PM to draw up a proper plan to help the victims of trafficking and modern slavery.

    May says the government is continuing its work on modern slavery.

    MF Matt Foster
  26. Conservative Sarah Newton says there are "extreme" pressures on local health services in Cornwall. She urges the PM to ensure health leaders will be supported.

    May says it's a "very important" issue. Cornwall council got £2m in extra funding, she says - but the Health Secretary will meet local MPs to discuss it.

    MF Matt Foster
  27. Labour's Sandy Martin flags a broken local pledge that no children's centres would close. How can the public believe government promises, he asks?

    Theresa May says extra cash has been going into the system - and says the Government has taken a "number of steps" to boost children's services.

    MF Matt Foster
  28. Conservative Craig Mackinlay raises the "shameful" live animal exports trade. He says it should "not form part" of any post-Brexit agricultural policy.

    The PM says the issue of concern to a "lot of people". Outside the common agricultural policy Britain will be able to set standards, she says.

    MF Matt Foster
  29. Labour's Karin Smyth raises a lack of schools funding in Bristol.

    Both Tory hopefuls have promised more schools funding - and asks if the PM agrees it should be targeted at the neediest schools.

    May says she "recognises" the need for special education needs to be well supported.

    MF Matt Foster
  30. Conservative MP Ben Bradley says there are "profound" consequences to not leaving the EU. He asks the PM if the Government has assessed the risks of trying to go back to "the way things were".

    Theresa May points out that Britain could have already left the EU if MPs had backed a deal... But important to deliver on the 2016 referendum.

    MF Matt Foster
  31. Labour's Justin Madders says the car industry will be hit under a no-deal and urges the PM to tell Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson jobs will be consigned to history if they leave without ad deal.

    May says Labour MPs should share the blame for not backing her deal.

    MF Matt Foster
  32. Theresa Villiers raises "long suffering" commuters in London and slams Sadiq Khan's planning decisions. May says she wants to see "more homes" but taking local concerns into account.

    MF Matt Foster
  33. The SNP's Deirdre Brock urges the PM to secure a "dignified" legacy by started a "new era" where elections and referendums can't be "rigged".

    May says shge's answered questions on Cambridge Analytica - and says UK elections and referendums are not "rigged". If Brock is so interested in seeing democracy being respected she needs to vote for a Brexit deal, May adds.

    MF Matt Foster
  34. Tory Robert Courts flags local school successes. Would she agree that's a "real example" of how academisation can work for rural seats?

    Shockingly, May agrees.

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  35. Labour MP Gareth Snell warns about poverty in Stoke on Trent - and urges her to fix universal credit, raise the national living wage and boost further education to help seats like his.

    May says Universal Credit is better than the old system.

    MF Matt Foster
  36. Conservative Trudy Harrison raises extra cash for maternity services in her local area. Theresa May says women should have "greater choice" in maternity services.

    MF Matt Foster
  37. Labour's Mary Glindon says the Government has lost in court to the FBU union on pensions and some civil servants have been making pension overpayments.

    MF Matt Foster
  38. Conservative Jack Lopresti says the UK most continue to be a "credible partner and ally" on defence after Brexit. He urges her successor to commit to a "fully funded" defence budget. Theresa May says it's an "uncertain world" and the UK should continue to be a trusted ally by keeping defence spending high.

    MF Matt Foster
  39. The SNP's Patrick Grady asks the PM whether history will judge Brexit to be "one giant leap backwards" in 50 years time.

    No, she says.

    MF Matt Foster
  40. Conservative David Morris says the Eden Project wants to come to Morecambe and asks the PM if she'll help that happen. May says she will.

    MF Matt Foster
  41. Labour's Paula Sherriff raises a shortage of affordable dental services in her local area and urges her to guarantee such healthcare. May says she'll look at the case raised.

    MF Matt Foster
  42. Tory Bim Afolami raises the net-zero carbon pledge. And asks if the PM will agree to be a guest speaker at an event he's hosting on boosting the local economy... May says she will look to see how busy her diary will be in the Autumn....

    MF Matt Foster
  43. Labour's Hugh Gaffney says there are nearly 50 dog attacks on postal workers a week in the UK. He's backing a union campaign to flag the issue - and says the law is currently not fit for purpose.

    May says steps have already been taking on dangerous dogs - but everyone recognises the problems postal workers do face when just doing their jobs.

    MF Matt Foster
  44. Conservative Maria Caulfield pays tribute to the late chair of the Hart inquiry into historical abuse in Northern Ireland. She asks the PM to commit to compensating those victims BEFORE the recess to ensure they get justice. May says the government will "look carefully" at the issues.

    MF Matt Foster
  45. Lib Dem Sir Vince Cable asks the PM how she can guarantee the next Tory leader will be able to command a majority. May says the next Conservative leader will be great - and slams the Lib Dems for trying to thwart Brexit.

    MF Matt Foster
  46. Conservative Craig Tracey says early diagnosis is vital in combating breast cancer. May says it's a "very important issue" and will look carefully at the specifics.

    MF Matt Foster
  47. Labour's Gloria Di Piero warns about a local constituent who is facing a hefty bill to divorce her husband. May says it's a matter for the courts so she can't comment - and that UK laws are already "very careful".

    MF Matt Foster
  48. Conservative Simon Hoare warns that his North Dorset constituency would face "R.I.P." under a no-deal Brexit.

    Theresa May says the House should take account of all aspects of the economy - and a Brexit deal is still "the right way forward".

    MF Matt Foster
  49. The SNP's Patricia Gibson raises the case of a constituency facing Home Office deportation - with 16k signatures on a petition urging a rethink.

    The PM says the UK's immigration rules are "right" but she'll flag it with the Home Office.

    MF Matt Foster

    MF Matt Foster

    That PMQs was properly overshadowed by the bombshell resignation of US ambassador Sir Kim Darroch just minutes before it kicked off (Our full story is here).

    Theresa May said it was "a matter of great regret that he has felt it necessary to leave his position as ambassador in Washington".

    Jeremy Corbyn also weighed in, saying the comments made about Sir Kim since cables critical of Donald Trump were leaked are "beyond unfair and wrong".

    Away from those words, the pair sparred over legal aid funding and access to justice. The Labour leader flagged steep cuts to legal aid for those on low pay and challenging government decisions - and argued that it undermined Theresa May's claim to want to root out "burning injustices".

    The PM hit back by arguing that Labour's own plans would see taxes skyrocket - and tried to shoehorn in Labour's anti-semitism crisis in her final few responses.

    Thanks for tuning in. We'll see you here same time, same place next week for the penultimate PMQs of May's time in office.

    MF Matt Foster