Ben Dean-Titterrell

Tag: Jeremy Corbyn

Parliamentary Roasts of the Week: W/C 09/07/18

Head image

Chamber of the House of Commons” by UK Parliament / CC BY 3.0 / Fire are 100 emojis placed upon original image

In an attempt to prove that the least appreciated of the UK’s age-old parliamentary conventions is MPs and Peers roasting each other, I’ve started a new project for this blog. Every week I’ll aim to bring you the best quips, one-liners, and straight fire roasts dished out in the Palace of Westminster.

W/C 09/07/18

Kicking things off with the first ever Parliamentary Roast of the Week is this fire from Jeremy Corbyn in response to the Prime Minister’s statement on Brexit from Monday. With David Davis and Boris Johnson resigning their cabinet posts within the proceeding 24 hours of the PM’s statement, Theresa May was a sitting duck.

“To be fair—I want to be fair to the former Brexit Secretary and the former Foreign Secretary—I think they would have resigned on the spot on Friday, but they were faced with a very long walk, no phone and, due to Government cuts, no bus service either. So I think they were probably wise to hang on for a couple of days so they could get a lift home in a Government car.”

Corbyn’s jab landed on David Davis, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, and the government more widely. One roast, four hits.


Theresa May didn’t hold back in her response to the Leader of the Opposition on Monday, giving back some banter of her own. Under that much pressure, the heat of the roasts she got in was admirable.

“The right honourable Gentleman has been in this House for quite a long time, and I know that he will have heard many statements. The normal response to a statement is to ask some questions. I do not think that there were any questions anywhere in that; nevertheless I will—[Interruption.]”

“At the beginning of his response, he thanked me for giving him early sight of my statement. It is just a pity that he obviously did not bother to read it.”

I’ve included two quotes here from May’s reply. (The custom will be to treat any roasts in the same contribution as part of a larger encompassing roast.) Both coming in hot on the banter-metre. Lots of thinking on the feet action here.


Someone I didn’t expect to ever feature in Roasts of the Week was Iain Duncan Smith. The quiet man made a quip about the Labour leader and his shadow cabinet. A well-worn road to go down if you’re looking to roast Jeremy Corbyn, but the delivery was strong.

“Whatever one’s view might be on the plan that my right honourable Friend has been talking about, I urge her not to accept a single recommendation from the Leader of the Opposition, as nobody else in his party does so.”

For the sheer achievement of even making it into Roasts of the Week, something he may never manage again, IDS gets our highest rating so far.


This Wednesday featured a rare PMQs session in which the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition didn’t feature. Instead, they sent stand-ins, Cabinet Minister David Lidington took Theresa May’s role and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornbery took the Leader of the Opposition’s place. Thornberry came straight out of the block with a football themed shot at the Government.

“Let me wish Gareth Southgate and the England team the best of luck for this match and hopefully for the final on Sunday. I may know very little about football, but even I can see that England’s progress so far at the World cup shows what can be achieved when all the individual players work effectively as a team, when there is a clear game plan, when they are all working together and, of course, when everyone respects and listens to the manager. Can I simply ask the Minister what lessons he thinks the England team could teach this shambles of a Government?”

This one’s a little long winded. I also feel it could have been better the other way round (i.e. ‘what could the government learn from the England team?’) But, could be worse and its certainly topical.



Another go from Thornberry here at PMQs. More jabs at the Cabinet and Government more widly. All her roasts so far have been focused on government dismay, plenty of material to work with.

“May I ask the Minister once again the question I asked him at PMQs in December 2016, when he compared Labour’s shadow Cabinet to “Mutiny on the Bounty” remade by the “Carry On” team. By those standards, what would he describe his lot now as—perhaps “Reservoir Dogs” remade by the Chuckle Brothers?”

This is funny, fair play to whoever thought this one up. Turns out this isn’t even the first time the Chuckle Brothers have been mentioned in Parliament, it’s actually the fourth. Better stuff here from the Shadow Foreign Secratary.



David Lidington didn’t throw many banter punches in during his exchanges with Emily Thornberry, but he got one roast in right as the PMQs session started.

“Finally, I am sure that all Members, whichever part of the United Kingdom they come from, would join me in congratulating Gareth Southgate and the England team on their fantastic performance in the quarter-final on Saturday, and in wishing them the very best for this evening’s match against Croatia. I will happily buy the right hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry) a flag to help her to join in.”

Blink and you’ll miss it, this is a poke at Thonrberry’s resignation from her position as Shadow Attorney General in 2014 after posting a photograph of a house in Rochester adorned with England flags. Niche, but a fairly fire roast here.



That’s all the roasts we’ve got time for this week, all that remains is to crown our Roaster of the Week. As he may never have the chance to win this covetted acolade again, I have to give the innaugral Roaster of the Week award to Iain Duncan Smith.

My time may not be particulalry valuable, but it certainly is limited. If you’ve spotted a roast in Parliament that you think is worthy of being included in Roast of the Week, let me know by contacting me.

How to defeat Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbin

Jeremy Corbyn by Garry Knight / CC BY 2.0

Jeremy Corbyn is going to be on the Labour leadership election ballot. The National Executive Committee voted 18-14 to allow him automatically onto the ballot without the need for nominations from the Parliamentary Labour Party and the European Parliamentary Labour Party. This puts Corbyn in a strong position to win the leadership race and reaffirm his mandate as Labour leader.

I realise Corbyn is likely to win. I’ve said endlessly that Corbyn getting straight onto the ballot means he’ll win and the Labour party will die as a serious political force. But I think it might just be possible to beat him.

Both Angela Eagle and Owen Smith have announced their bids for the leadership, presumably Eagle and Smith will agree that whichever one seems to be doing worse will drop out of the race and throw their full suport behind the other. Regardless of who ends up being the challenger to Corbyn, the strategy required to win remains the same in my mind.

The key step on the path to beating Corbyn is don’t make it Angela Eagle/Owen Smith vs Jeremy Corbyn. Do not, under any circumstances, make it a battle of personalities. If you make it Jeremy vs Challenger then you will lose, he will win and Labour will be doomed. The Cult of Jez will prevail if you try to defeat it.

Instead, make the contest Eagle/Smith’s full alternative front bench team vs Jeremy’s floundering shadow cabinet. With 172 MPs explicitly saying they don’t have confidence in Jeremy’s leadership you have an invaluable weapon. Use it.

Here’s a step by step guide:

  1. Appoint an alternative shadow front bench team from across the party using the 172 MPs who declared no confidence in Corbyn. Use people from all strands of the party and make it clear this is a unity shadow cabinet.
  2. Make sure it’s a full team, shadow junior ministers and all. Literally an entire government in waiting needs to be prepared and don’t announce it until you’ve got every post filled.
  3. Do a photo-op, a really good one. All stand on a stage and look ready to govern the country. Plaster that image everywhere, show it to people at every oppertunity and talk about your alternative shadow front bench all the time.
  4. Contrast it with how Jeremy has a threadbare front bench team with people doing two shadow cabinet jobs. Corbyn cannot hold the government to account with his current shadow cabinet.
  5. Make the point that Labour is a parliamentary party and not a revolutionary party of protest. Make that point endlessly. Corbyn has made the membership believe Parliament doesn’t matter, remind them that it matters above all else.
  6. Most importantly, make it clear how you’re an alternative team not just an alternative leader. Jeremy Corbyn can’t be the leader alone, needs a large team behind him in Parliament and he just doesn’t have that.

This is, in my view the only way to defeat Corbyn and save Labour. There are a lot of minds that need changing in this leadership election. A lot of Corbyn loyalists that need winning over. With all due respect to Angela Eagle and Owen Smith, you’ll never develop the cult following that Jeremy Corbyn has. The membership won’t love you in the way they love him.

So be pragmatic. Come across as the sensible, capable majority of the parliamentary party that can construct a genuine government in waiting. That’s what the Opposition in the House of Commons should be. It will never be that under Jeremy Corbyn, and if you can get that message out there clearly and firmly to the membership then you might, might, win.