Jeremy Corbyn takes prime minister to task on public sector pay

Theresa May has faced a showdown with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over public sector pay during prime minister's questions.

Mr Corbyn warned of a low pay epidemic and accused the government of "recklessly exploiting the goodwill" of struggling teachers and nurses.

"The prime minister found £1bn to keep her own job," the Labour leader said, referring to the deal the Conservatives struck with the DUP following the general election.

"Why can't she find the same amount of money to keep nurses and teachers in their job[s]."

Mrs May responded claiming there were more nurses and teachers now compared to 2010.

She also hit back at Mr Corbyn's party, saying the Conservatives had inherited the "biggest deficit" in the UK's peacetime history from Labour, prompting shouts of "apologise" from Tory backbenchers aimed at the Opposition.

As the debate became heated, Speaker John Bercow had to twice intervene as Tory MPs shouted over Mr Corbyn.

With Mrs Mary already under pressure from within her own ranks on the issue of public sector pay, the Commons debate was an opportunity for the Labour leader to make some headway.

Mr Corbyn said there had been a "week of flipflopping and floundering" by the government over the public sector pay cap, arguing the 1 per cent limit causes "real shortages" in nursing, teaching and other professions, as well as "real hardship".

He quoted a teacher called David who warned his workload has increased and more people are leaving the profession than starting.

He quoted the teacher as saying "the only thing holding the education system together is the dedication to struggle on for their students and staff" and such dedication is fast "running out".

"So what we're doing by this pay cut, if I say to the prime minister, is recklessly exploiting the goodwill of public servants like David," Mr Corbyn said. "They need a pay rise."

Mr Corbyn widened the issue of pay concerns beyond the public sector, noting wages across the economy are increasing at 2.1 per cent, below the rate of inflation which is nearly 3 per cent.

Mrs May defended the government's efforts to help low paid workers and finished by jibing that Mr Corbyn had begun to refer to himself as a "government in waiting".

"We all know what that means," she quipped. "Waiting to put up taxes, waiting to destroy jobs, waiting to bankrupt our country."