- Corbyn joked about Grayling during the PM’s Brexit statement
- The Transport Minister has been the centre of criticism
- He is facing calls to resign over his handling of no-deal Brexit planning
Labour MPs were left in stitches during a Brexit Commons face-off between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May after the Labour leader poked fun at capabilities of Chris Grayling.
The Transport Secretary has been heavily criticised in recent weeks over his handling of no-deal Brexit planning and has faced calls from the opposition to resign from his post.
And, during a statement in the Commons, Mr Corbyn used the opportunity to make a dig at Mr Grayling’s expense.
The Prime Minister had delivered a speech to the Commons updating MPs on her continued Brexit talks with Brussels, before Mr Corbyn rose to respond to her statement.
“I usually thank the Prime Minister for advanced copy of her statement,” he said. “But it was handed to me just as I was leaving my office to come down here.”
He went on: “So I can only assume she entrusted it to the Transport Secretary to deliver it to me.”
Even some Tories are laughing at Corbyn’s joke at Grayling’s expense. Talks about getting a copy of May’s statement late and then says “I can only assume it was entrusted to the transport secretary to deliver”.
— Arj Singh (@singharj) February 12, 2019
Class from @jeremycorbyn “I usually thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of her statement, but it arrived just as I was leaving my office to come here, so I can only assume she entrusted it to the Transport Secretary to deliver” #FailingGrayling #Grayling
— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) February 12, 2019
The Labour benches erupted with laughter – with even a few Tory MPs and Speaker John Bercow appearing to crack a smile at the dig.
Amid the laughter, Labour MPs could be heard shouting “failing Grayling!” across the chamber.
But the Prime Minister remained stern-faced as she sipped from her glass of water.
Beset with problems
The joke came after Mrs May was forced, on Monday, to confirm that Mr Grayling her her “full support” after he was facing calls to resign from his ministerial post.
The disastrous legacy of Chris Grayling tells you all you need to know about politics today
The Transport Secretary was under pressure after his notorious no-deal Brexit ferry contract, which was found to be awarded to a firm with no ships, was cancelled.
Mr Grayling was mocked for his decision to award Seaborne Freight a contract worth £13.8 million to run services between Ramsgate and Ostend in the event that the UK left the EU without a deal.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it had decided to terminate the contract after Irish company Arklow Shipping, which had backed Seaborne Freight, stepped away from the deal.
But MPs – including pro-EU Tories – said Mr Grayling should take responsibility for the situation and resign.
The National Audit Office has since revealed that the Government went ahead with the contract despite its assessment that the firm involved was “a high-risk proposition”.
Mr Grayling’s ministerial term has been beset with chaotic problems. He was granted the nickname “failing Grayling” over his apparent inability to deal with chaos on the country’s rail networks.
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