WATCH: Ugly exchanges at PMQs as Budget row deepens
PUBLISHED: 13:19 31 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:19 31 October 2018
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Labour has its own Budget splits – but the party is united in its view that this is not the end of austerity.
Philip Hammond’s Budget has been well received on the Tory benches and for that the prime minister will be hugely grateful. It might just even see some of those wavering on her own side get behind Theresa May’s Brexit plan.
And Labour’s internal battle over whether or not the higher-rate tax allowance should be supported has also given the government some breathing space.
READ: ‘We messed up before Brexit vote’ admits George Osborne
So this PMQs was Jeremy Corbyn’s chance to get his party’s opposition to the statement back on track.
“This is not the end of austerity,” he declared. “This is a Budget of broken promises.”
He pointed out the fact that there was no new funding for the police describing the government as having “contempt” for the police.
And he was right to repeat Hammond’s ill-judged phrase asking why schools were only getting “little extras” instead of the serious lump of cash headteachers are screaming out for.
But a May always had that John McDonnell pledge up her sleeve. And to whoops and cheers from the Tories she recovered her poise after a bruising opening.
Glumly Corbyn gazed at the MPs opposite and asked “are you done yet?” He was rattled and when one Tory blurted out a question aimed at Corbyn he even slapped him down before the speaker had to intervene. It was getting ugly.
But Corbyn ended like he began, with a flourish: “It is very clear – only Labour can be trusted to end austerity.”
And this is the message Corbyn is desperate to push. Because if those swing voters that backed his party last year start to believe austerity really is over they might begin to wonder if they should back him again.
Verdict: Corbyn wins, but it was closer than it should have been.