Parliamentary Sketch

PMQs 18th Jan – So long and thanks for all the fish & bargaining chips

When the dolphins departed Planet Earth just before it was demolished in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, that was it. No tearful goodbyes and they wouldn’t be keeping in touch, partly as we were about to be destroyed.

Theresa May seemed to have the same approach yesterday when she announced even though we were leaving the single market and customs union, don’t panic.

It wrong-footed a number of members of the house, and the light seemed to have gone out a bit for Corbyn and Tory remainers during today’s PMQs.

Tory remainers/traitors (delete as appropriate) Kenneth Clarke, Anna Soubry and Alastair Burt all asked questions about the mechanics of how we leave the single market, not whether we should. I guess there is no point complaining about the carrots when your mum has chucked your dinner in the bin.

Corbyn said that May claimed Brexit would restore parliamentary democracy, but is now sidelining parliament during the Brexit negotiations, and was she “not the iron lady but the irony lady.” Fair point, but mostly harmless. It was also an acceptance that a hard Brexit or frictionless Brexit, as it is now called, is going to happen.

What we now have are bargaining chips to use to get the best deal for the UK. Two questions today considered whether EU citizens currently living in the UK and the fisheries industry were being used as tools to get the best for Britain. You don’t need a babel fish to know where this is going.

It was hoped that we would rise above this and show our moral fibre, but that is unlikely, as the nuclear option is to become a tax haven.

The people who are going to be the most annoyed at this are places like the Cayman Islands, Belize etc rather than mainland Europe, and that says something. We would be competing with Panama not Paris. Corbyn said we would be a “tax haven on the shores of the EU, and May demeans herself and her office with these threats.”

Low corporation tax attracts business, but not necessarily the right ones. Facebook, Google and Apple have not put much tax income in the Irish Government’s coffers, but, to be fair, have brought (some) jobs.

Today Jeremy Corbyn told the PM that this is a “race to the bottom, lowering Corporation tax would lose £120bn in revenue a year, damaging our public services.”

I’m not quite sure how Jeremy worked out these figures as Corporation tax currently brings in £50bn a year, assuming it wouldn’t be zero, the tax would still bring in a large chunk of money. Maybe I’ve missed something, but I get his point. He never could get the hang of Wednesdays.

As May again told us today “Brexit is Brexit,” but is this her “42” answer? Perhaps it isn’t Theresa “frictionless thought” May’s fault, as we never actually knew what the ultimate question was in the first place.

Sycophantic question of the day

Well the exact opposite; Chris Bryant, Lab, pointed out the food bank in his constituency is in the, now closed down, Conservative Club.

Winner

Well after Mr Hunt’s £15m windfall this week and becoming the richest member of the cabinet, I’m giving it to Richard Fuller, Con, who asked a question about reining in executive pay. I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed.

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