Today saw the first Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) session with the new Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Due to the landslide victory by Mr Corbyn in the leadership battle, today’s PMQs was likely to have been one of the most heavily watched in decades.
After he informing the House he’d received over 40,000 questions from voters and asked the first six, covering serious topics issues including housing and tax credits – ending on mental health.
Island MP asks first question
Once he’d finished his questions, the first next question was asked by Isle of Wight MP, Andrew Turner.
With the deep pockets of deprivation, over 8,000 households on the housing register, poor education and unemployment prospects, can you guess what his question was about?
The problems of importing a tiger to the Isle of Wight Zoo.
As was clearly seen on the live video from Parliament (now below, with a little lead in from PM), as the Isle of Wight MP asked his question other MPs (on both sides of the house) were openly smirking.
(The full transcript is at the bottom of the page).
(Andrew Turner’s office has subsequently issued a press release about this.)
Isle of Wight trending … for the wrong reasons
Social media ‘went wild’ after the question was asked and (lucky for them) Isle of Wight Zoo, is now trending on Twitter and the question has been covered by Sky News and BuzzFeed Politics.
“The Isle of Wight zoo is having trouble importing a tiger,” says Tory MP Andrew Turner. Huge if true. pic.twitter.com/QpeGPuqcBJ
— BuzzFeed UK Politics (@BuzzFeedUKPol) September 16, 2015
Within 15 minutes we saw over 300 tweets commenting on Andrew Turner’s question, a great many of them mocking him for his priorities (we’ve gathered them below for you).
Even brands are getting in on the act, such as Innocent Drinks which tweeted this to its 212,000 followers
If you’re not listening to #PMQs today, it’s talking about bringing tigers to the Isle of Wight. This is exactly what British politics needs
— innocent drinks (@innocent) September 16, 2015
If not, what would you have wanted him to ask about?
“Although there may be more important issues, during PMQs you need to judge whether to achieve something positive or simply get a soundbite. Simi, the tiger has been in inadequate, temporary housing for far too long after being badly abused. I have been trying to help the Isle of Wight Zoo break through the bureaucracy- so far without success. It was interesting to hear that the Prime Minister has intervened in a similar situation in Oxfordshire. I hope that with the support of the Prime Minister, Simi will enjoy as happy a life as Nancy is now.”
Transcript of question
Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con):
The Isle of Wight zoo is having difficulty importing a tiger. She was cruelly treated in a circus and has now been kept in isolation for nearly two years, despite Belgium being wholly free from rabies. Will my right hon. Friend assist in breaking through this bureaucratic logjam?
The Prime Minister:
I will certainly do anything I can to help my—[Interruption.]
Order. I want to hear about the tiger.
The Prime Minister:
I want to hear about the tiger, and we will help those at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Animal and Plant Health Agency, because they are the ones who are working on this. I had a constituency case exactly like this, when the Cotswold Wildlife Park wanted to bring in a rhino. I intervened, and I am delighted to say that the Cotswold Wildlife Park named the rhino Nancy, in honour of my daughter. Nancy has been breeding ever since she arrived in Burford, and I hope that the tiger will be just as effective.
Update: Added Andrew Turner’s press release quote and video
2:45pm 8th May 2020 – Removed Storify embed (a shame because it had some great Tweets in it), as the service has closed.