Jeremy Corbyn slammed over failure to quiz Theresa May over tax hike U-turn

Fiona Simpson

Jeremy Corbyn "missed badly" an opportunity to slam Theresa May over the Government's dramatic U-turn on a planned Budget tax hike, a Tory MP said.

Two backbench Labour MPs who are regular critics of their leader also bemoaned his performance on Prime Minister's Questions and praised that of senior opposition figure Yvette Cooper.

Tory former minister Tim Loughton said that on the Ides of March - March 15 in the Roman calendar, and notorious for the assassination of Julius Caesar - Mr Corbyn should have performed more like the killer Brutus.

Following exchanges between Mr Corbyn and Prime Minister at PMQs, Mr Loughton said: "Today is the Ides of March and yet again Brutus opposite missed badly."

The Labour leader had around 20 minutes to react to the release of a letter from Chancellor Philip Hammond to Tory MPs, in which he ditched proposals to increase National Insurance contributions (NICs) for the self-employed only a week after announcing them.

Mr Hammond had faced fierce criticism from backbench Tories as his planned 2 per cent increase in Class 4 NICs broke a Conservative 2015 General Election manifesto pledge not to raise taxes.

Mr Corbyn said the climbdown on a measure intended to raise £2 billion over the coming years, had left "a black hole in the Budget" and said the Mrs May should apologise to the country, adding: "It seems to me like a Government in a bit of chaos."

Afterwards, Ms Cooper was cheered by Labour MPs after telling the Commons: "The Prime Minister has just done a £2 billion Budget U-turn in the space of about a week.

"Last year the Government did a £4 billion U-turn in the space of five days.

"Is that why they want to abolish spring budgets? Because they just keep ripping them up?"

Labour MPs Tom Blenkinsop and Mike Gapes, long-term critics of Mr Corbyn, praised Ms Cooper, who came third in 2015's leadership election.

Mr Gapes tweeted: "Great question by @YvetteCooperMP pity she couldn't have had six today".

Mr Blenkinsop said: "Thank God @YvetteCooperMP #PMQs".

In another tweet, Mr Blenkinsop added: "May was poor, as usual, but she hasn't suffered her worst #PMQs serious questions about holding the Govt to account need to be asked."