With rumours circulating about his potential departure over Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, delivered one of his best performances to date in PMQs. In a blistering attack on Theresa May, Corbyn accused the Prime Minister of offering a 'sweetheart' deal to Surrey, a Conservative stronghold seat, to avoid a referendum on raising taxes to fund social care in the local area.

'Memorandum of understanding'

Corbyn invoked leaked text messages from Surrey county council leader, Nick Hodge, which demonstrate a 'memorandum of understanding' between local and national authorities.

For the past year, Surrey county council have continually threatened to poll constituents on a 15 per cent rise in council tax to fund health and social care.The proposed 15 per cent rise would have been politically embarrassing for health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and the chancellor, Philip Hammond-both of whom have constituencies in the area.

However, the council unexpectedly reneged on the council tax rise, agreeing instead that a near five per cent rise in council tax would suffice. The Prime Minister faced a cavalcade of questions from Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs.

Corbyn told the House of Commons that the text messages had been intended for a government advisor but, instead, found a way to someone else called Nick.

Hodge, however, dismissed Corbyn's claims in parliament. He said: 'There hasn't been a deal made between Surrey county council and the government. Given the spotlight our council is now in, I'm now confident that the government understands the pressures of social care and the need for changes'.

The messages

In the text messages, Nick Hodge says: 'I understand you would like to chat this afternoon.

I would be grateful to speak asap'. In response, the source expressed confusion: 'I'm advised that the DCLG and my director of finance have worked out a solution and that you would be contacting me to agree an MOU [memorandum of understanding.]'

The final text says: 'I have got clarification from my CE. He confirmed that Matthew Styles and Sheila Little have spoken recently and the numbers you showed me are the numbers that I understand are acceptable for me to agree with.

Please send to me or Shiela Little confirmation. I want this done with'.

After reading the messages, Corbyn asked May if the MOU would be published by the government and whether the deal will be offered to all local councils-particularly those in the North which are governed by Labour. May refused to answer, much to the bemusement of the Labour leader. Given the pressure Corbyn is under over Brexit, today was a much-needed victory for the Labour leader.