No trace of suspending party loyalty as Corbyn takes PMQs bow

Jeremy Corbyn ended his time at Prime Minister’s Questions as he started it, probing at Boris Johnson, seeking his weak spots.

The Labour leader promised his voice would not be “stilled” despite handing the reins of his party over to someone else within weeks.

“I’ll be arguing… I’ll be demanding justice for people in this country and the rest of the world,” he said, as the two men shared a few sparing warm remarks to mark the occasion.

The Conservative and Labour leaders battle it out at PMQs
Image: The Conservative and Labour leaders battle it out at PMQs

This was Mr Corbyn’s 136th session facing a Conservative leader and he was given six extra questions in light of the coronavirus crisis sweeping the world.

He used them, in his characteristic style, to demand more for those suffering most during the lockdown: the low-paid and those in insecure work.

In an exchange typical of his time at the despatch box, the Labour leader said the virus only served to highlight that the UK is deeply divided.

“No one is an island and no one is self-made”, he said.

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“The well-being of the most wealthy depends on the outsourced worker cleaning their office… we have to recognise the value of each other and the strength of a society which cares for each other and cares for us all.”

Boris Johnson agreed, thanking him for his words.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn shared few warm remarks
Image: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn shared few warm remarks

Earlier he had thrown a gentle barb in Mr Corbyn’s direction, suggesting his successor may not be delighted that the current leader plans to remain vocal within the Commons.

Many have criticised Mr Corbyn for his performance during Prime Minister’s Questions, including those on his own side who feel his questions are not forensic enough and his style not suited to TV news programmes.

Initially MPs laughed at his style of using messages sent in from people around the UK to make his points about inequality.

Slowly though, the laughter at this device stopped.

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Today, his questions were focused on those facing the toughest time during the virus outbreak: the self-employed who feel they have to go to work, care workers, those who are stuck abroad and people applying for universal credit.

In contrast to other leaders, including the SNP, there was no trace of suspending party loyalty as he became frustrated at the prime minister and warned him “this is no time for levity” during a lighter moment in the session.

In short, Mr Corbyn used his last opportunity to question a Conservative prime minister in the same way he has used every other.

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He was the thorn in Mr Johnson’s side and never his ally, showing none of the collegiate tone adopted by his front bench colleagues even in such unprecedented times.

In a fitting final tribute, his most senior advisers were asked to leave the press gallery for breaking the rules by taking photos of their boss’s final question time.

Right to the end, Mr Corbyn and his team have sought to make their own rules.