PMQs: Corbyn sidesteps issue of Brexit at last session before crucial vote

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during Prime Minister's Questions. Photograph: PA Wire.

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during Prime Minister's Questions. Photograph: PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Labour has defended Jeremy Corbyn's decision not to use Prime Minister's Questions to grill Theresa May on Brexit and the fallout from the government's defeats in the Commons.

The opposition leader sparked some criticism after he used his six questions at Wednesday's regular set-piece debate to instead focus on problems with the welfare system.

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He accused the government of creating a 'hostile environment' for those on benefits, referencing a United Nations special report into the government's policies, and asked Theresa May which part she found most shocking.

It was not until the Scottish National Party's Westminster leader Ian Blackford subsequently got to ask his questions that the matter was raised at the televised debate in the Commons.

Speaking to reporters after PMQs, a spokesman for the Labour leader said most people in the country 'want the issues facing them in their day-to-day lives to be addressed'.

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He said: 'We will be talking about Brexit every day this week, as we did every day last week and as no doubt we will do every day next week.

'It was absolutely right to focus on other issues which are causing extreme hardship for millions of people in the country.

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'As you will know many people in Britain feel that the Brexit process is diverting attention away from crucial issues facing the country which the government is not addressing.

'Brexit is of course the central issue facing the country, as Jeremy is saying, but it is not the only issue by any matter or means.'

But the Lib Dem Brexit spokesman Tom Brake questioned the decision, as it is the last PMQs before the December 11 meaningful vote.

He tweeted: 'The last PMQs before the most critical set of Brexit votes ever and the publication of legal advice which confirms NI could be split from the UK and not a word from Jeremy Corbyn about Brexit.

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'Talk about missing an open goal.'

The SNP's Joanna Cherry QC added: 'Whilst the issues raised by Jeremy Corbyn today are very important I can't believe he has missed the gaping open goal of the triple whammy of Tory Govt defeats yesterday.'

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