Labour sensed blood over the Windrush scandal and although sorry might be the hardest word it was the only option for the prime minister.
And then Theresa May dropped a bombshell: Labour was in power when the decision to destroy the landing cards of the Windrush generation was made. A stunned Corbyn looked around for help as if to ask ‘what now?’ No help was forthcoming.
The Labour leader was hoping to pin the blame on May when she was home secretary and the incumbent Amber Rudd. But the PM’s revelation that the decision – which has made it much more difficult to prove many of the Windrush kids’ settled status – was taken in 2009 sent Corbyn stumbling.
He battled on though, pointing to the ‘hostile environment’ the Tories aimed to create for illegal immigrants and the controversial ‘go home’ vans piloted in Brent and Redbridge.
‘This is a shameful episode and the blame lies at the government’s door,’ Corbyn said, blaming the government’s ambition to drive down immigration as the reason behind the Windrush scandal. He added that the Home Office became ‘heartless and hopeless’ when she was the secretary of state and her government was now ‘callous and incompetent’. It was a nice sound bite.
So Corbyn just about managed to survive the news that Labour could be implicated in the Windrush debacle. But the knock-out blow he had hoped for failed to land. If only his office had done their research.
And then the PM landed a hefty slapdown of her own: ‘I will not take a accusations of being callous from a man who allows anti-Semitism to run riot in his party.’
And after the emotional scenes in the chamber only the night before during a debate on that issue she has a point.
VERDICT: Score draw