Jeremy Corbyn mocked Theresa May’s invitation to the Labour party to help create policies for the UK’s future post-Brexit by offering to give her a copy of his election manifesto, or even better suggesting she call an early general election.
Corbyn made his comments in his response to May’s parliamentary statement on the G20 meeting in Hamburg, which she attended on Friday and Saturday. He expressed surprise she had so much to contribute to the summit, claiming there was barely anything on international policy in the Tory’s election manifesto.
“Or indeed any policy – so much so that the government is now asking other parties for their policy ideas,” added Corbyn. “So if the prime minister would like it I would be very happy to furnish her with a copy of our election manifesto or better still an early election in order that the people of this country can better decide.”
Corbyn to May: read Labour manifesto for ideas
The Labour leader – who is now enjoying a solid lead in opinion polls – accused the government of running out of steam at a pivotal moment for the UK. He pointed to “uncertainty about Brexit, conflict in the Gulf states, nuclear sabre-rattling over North Korea, refugees continuing to flee war and destruction, ongoing pandemics, cross-border terrorism, poverty and inequality, and the impact of climate change”.
The prime minister also came under pressure from her own backbenchers about the suggestion, expected in a speech tomorrow, for MPs across the political spectrum to come forward with their own ideas.
Desmond Swayne MP asked about the “new lovefest with the benches opposite”, which he suggested was akin to making a deal with the devil. “Given the record of the leader of the opposition on the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act does she possess a long spoon?”
In response, the prime minister appeared to water down an overnight briefing on the subject, suggesting that she was reaching out to Labour MPs rather than the leader of the opposition, who had voted against her on counter-terror issues in the past.
On the G20 visit, the Labour leader also challenged the prime minister for failing to addressing the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement in a 50-minute bilateral meeting, instead raising it informally later. Corbyn called Donald Trump’s position “reckless and dangerous” and said it was urgent to work collaboratively to stop the world reaching a “point of no return on climate change”. He said other leaders had been unequivocal over the issue and urged May to speak out more boldly.
May responded that the UK had a proud record on climate change, saying the country was the third best in the world for tackling it and would continue to lead on it. She repeated her suggestion that she was “dismayed” by Trump’s decision to pull out and said she had personally raised the issue with the US president.
Pressed on the question of her attempt to build trade deals with non-EU countries, when the economic relationship with Europe was most pressing, May said: “He talks about trade deals – well I’m very happy to tell him we are already working with the Americans, we already have a working group with the Australians, we have a working group with India as well.”
The leader of the SNP Westminster group, Ian Blackford, said the UK was “now floundering around on a global stage desperately trying to make friends” – as he questioned the risks of a US trade deal.