By Lamiat Sabin
Labour slaps down PM’s humiliating plea for help from rival parties
JEREMY CORBYN slapped down Theresa May’s cynical request for parties to “work together” on policy yesterday, slamming a “narrow and hopeless” administration that has “run out of steam.”
Following the Prime Minister’s plea for Labour to “contribute ideas” on Brexit, the leader of the opposition offered to supply her with a copy of his party’s manifesto.
But if her government was stuck for ideas it would be “better still” to hold another election so “the people of this country can decide.”
Ms May tried to pitch her bid for cross-party collaboration as a “grown-up” way of doing politics, but Mr Corbyn said this was a “pivotal moment in our country and the world” and Britain couldn’t afford a rudderless and discredited government.
“Amid uncertainty over Brexit, conflict in the Gulf states, nuclear sabre-rattling over North Korea, refugees continuing to flee war and destruction, ongoing pandemics, cross-border terrorism, poverty and inequality, and the impact of climate change,” a new vision was needed, the Labour leader said.
Ms May’s closest minister, First Secretary of State Damian Green, said the public would welcome her attempt to move away from the type of politics in which parties “just sit in the trenches and shell each other.”
But shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne said that Ms May’s plea shows she “has finally come clean and accepted the government has completely run out of ideas. As a result they’re having to beg for policy proposals from Labour.”
Mr Gwynne also accused the unimaginative Tories of “brazenly borrowing” Labour’s slogan as Ms May will vow to lead a “one nation” government that works for all and not just the “privileged few.”
“But no-one will be fooled — the Tories are the party of the privileged few. This is further evidence that this government can no longer run the country,” Mr Gwynne said.
Ms May’s new-found readiness to “debate and discuss” ideas with others emerges ahead of the Repeal Bill being published this week.
The Bill will ensure that EU law no longer applies in Britain.
Her speech today will be at the publication of the Taylor Report for the government review of the so-called “gig economy,” in which many workers of app-based companies are declared “self-employed” so bosses can avoid paying holiday and sick pay.
It follows manoeuvres by pro-Remain MPs who have vowed to stop a “hard Brexit” — with Labour backbencher Chuka Umunna and Tory ally Anna Soubry keen to lead MPs from both parties as well as the Scottish National Party, Greens and Liberal Democrats in seeking to undermine last year’s referendum result and keep Britain in the single market.
Mr Green confirmed that the Prime Minister’s plea was not just about Brexit, and that the Tories are stuck on what to do in general without help from the opposition parties.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re saying that politicians of all parties, it’s not just addressed to Jeremy Corbyn, but that there are big issues facing this country, obviously Brexit is the overwhelming one, but there’s counter-terrorism, there’s workers’ rights — the thing that’s very much in the news today with the Matthew Taylor report — issues like the industrial strategy.”
Ms May’s speech also comes after reports of a plot to oust her by allies of Brexit Secretary David Davis, who is ranked favourite to succeed her — according to results of a poll published last week of Tory members by website ConservativeHome.
Former chief whip Andrew Mitchell, who ran Mr Davis’s unsuccessful 2005 leadership bid, played down claims he told a private dinner that the PM was “dead in the water,” saying the report was “overheated.”