PMQs sketch: Fuming Yvette Cooper takes May to task over Windrush scandal after Corbyn fails to land decisive blow

The House of Commons is not Jeremy Corbyn's preferred field of battle and it fell to his and Theresa May's old foe Yvette Cooper to inject some fight into this week's PMQs.

Theresa May was told not to "hide" away from the Windrush scandal by Labour's Yvette Cooper.
Theresa May was told not to "hide" away from the Windrush scandal by Labour's Yvette Cooper.

The Labour leader failed to convert an open goal last week on the Windrush scandal, which runs to the heart of Conservative immigration strategy and straight to Mrs May’s record as Home Secretary, and a week more of heartbreaking case studies and damaging headlines gifted him another chance.

And while last week’s session was explosive, with the Prime Minister forced to play dirty just to get through it relatively unscathed, this was comparatively flat until Ms Cooper’s intervention.

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Mr Corbyn raised legitimate questions about Mrs May’s role in vigorously pursuing a “tens of thousands” net migration target, partly through her “hostile environment” immigration policies, which have been blamed for the appalling treatment of the Windrush generation.

But he again failed to land a decisive blow despite the PM’s evasive answers in which she was allowed to wax lyrical about tackling illegal immigration, despite the fact legal Commonwealth British residents have fallen victim to policies aimed at those illegally in the country.

Mrs May did not even have to attack Mr Corbyn over anti-Semitism in his party, and somehow emerged for her final answer laughing and smiling, after the Labour leader chose suddenly to switch targets to current Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Instead it fell to one of the leader’s of Labour’s “shadow shadow” cabinet, the forensic Home Affairs Committee chair Ms Cooper, to take the Prime Minister to task.

Ms Cooper was left bristling on the backbenches after Mrs May quoted her calls for a clampdown on illegal immigration while shadow Home Secretary in 2013.

After then being forced to sit through a question from Conservative Andrea Jenkyns, who took her husband Ed Balls’ seat in Morley, she finally caught the Speaker’s eye and did not disappoint.

Pressing hard on the PM’s bruises over Windrush, Ms Cooper told her “do not try to hide” behind Labour, civil servants and a Cabinet which does not agree and is trying to “clear up her mess”, particularly “when she was warned repeatedly of the damage her obsession with her net migration target was doing”, and when she had instilled in the Home Office a “culture of disbelief”.

Fuming at this point, Ms Cooper brought the knife down on Mrs May: “And when the high commissioners told us this morning that they had warned the Foreign Office about the Windrush generation immigration problems in 2016, what did she do?”

And then to the delight of previously moribund Labour backbenchers: “A few years ago the Prime Minister said ‘I’m actually sick and tired of a government minister who simply blames other people when something goes wrong'.

"What’s changed?”