Jeremy Paxman returns to pugilistic style in May v Corbyn battle
Three years on from his departure from BBC2’s Newsnight, Jeremy Paxman reprised the combative style he is known for during May v Corbyn Live: the Battle for No 10.
He tried to unsettle both Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, repeatedly pressing each of them for answers to his questions and talking over them at times.
He questioned Corbyn over why he had been unable to get his long-held belief in nuclear disarmament – and stances on others issues – into the Labour manifesto, which backs the renewal of the Trident nuclear missile system. And he wondered aloud whether European leaders at the Brexit negotiation table would not look at Theresa May’s recent policy U-turns and label her a “blowhard who collapses at the first sign of gunfire”.
Paxman returned repeatedly to the beliefs that Corbyn held in his earlier days in politics. He demanded to know whether or not the Labour leader was still opposed to the institution of monarchy, a policy that did not make it into the party’s manifesto, and whether or not he still believed that sending British servicemen to the Falklands was a “Tory plot”.
From May, he demanded to know when she realised she had got the “wrong answer to the biggest question in politics” – leaving it there for her to guess which of her political positions he was referring to. It was Brexit, she assumed. Confirming it was, he repeatedly pressed her, asking: “You still believe it’s a duff idea, don’t you?”
Each of the leaders devised their own tactic to deal with Paxman. Corbyn played the victim when the interviewer kept cutting him off, drawing Paxman into admitting that he would not let him finish his answer.
“I know that you have used this tactic,” May said, with notable success, when he tried the same on her.