Jeremy Corbyn repeatedly pressed David Cameron over his administration's proposed cuts to tax credits during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in a relentless questioning style similar to former BBC Newsnight inquisitor Jeremy Paxman. The Labour leader made the move after Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne were defeated in the House of Lords when peers blocked their flagship welfare reform.
Corbyn used his fourth appearance at the dispatch box opposite the Conservative leader on 28 October to raise the issue over and over again. The 66-year-old also notably dropped his previous approach of fielding direct questions from voters, instead using five out of his six questions to personally question Cameron on his welfare reform – the final query from "Karen" also concerned tax credits.
The prime minister hit back at the left-winger by claiming a new alliance "between the unelected and unelectable" had conspired against his government and urged Corbyn to be "patient" as Osborne would unveil his reshaped policy during his Autumn Statement in November.
But an undeterred Corbyn kept at Cameron and blasted the prime minister for not directly answering his questions. "It's very interesting that the prime minister still refuses to answer the fundamental question," he said. "This is not a constitutional crisis, this is a crisis for three million families in this country – for three million families who are very worried about what is going to happen next April ."
The Labour leader then pressed Cameron on Michael Gove's pre-election promise that tax credits would not be cut if the Conservatives gained power. But the prime minister claimed his party had not broken the pledge because the Tories had also promised to slash £12bn ($18bn) from the government's welfare budget.
"The point is this: If we want to get our deficit down, if we want to secure our economy, if we want to keep on with secure growth, we need to make savings in welfare. Now, even with his deficit denying, borrow forever plan, presumably he has to make some savings in public spending?" Cameron argued.
"If you don't make savings, you end up cutting the NHS, you end up cutting even more deeply policing budgets – those are the truths. When is he going to stop his deficit denial, get off the fence and tell us what he would do?"
The comments come after Cameron promised a "rapid review" of the upper chamber after the peers inflicted an embarrassing defeat on his government and in doing so, the Lords challenged the supremacy of the House of Commons in parliament's legislative process.