by Larry Neild
LONDON, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Theresa May on Wednesday likened the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to "unscrupulous boss" as she made her debut at the British Parliament to answer questions as prime minister.
As she faced Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the official opposition, May had a clever reference to the current civil war engulfing the Labour Party.
Corbyn is estranged from virtually all of his Labour MPs who recently passed a vote of no confidence in their left-wing leader.
Firing questions at May, mainly centered on her first speech as prime minister a week earlier, Corbyn sought reassurances from the prime minister.
At one stage May retorted: "I am interested that the right hon. Gentleman (Corbyn) referred to the situation of some workers who might have job insecurity and potentially unscrupulous bosses. I suspect that many Members on the Opposition Benches might be familiar with an unscrupulous boss - a boss who does not listen to his workers, a boss who requires some of his workers to double their workload and maybe even a boss who exploits the rules to further his own career. Remind him of anybody?"
It was a clear reference to the rift between Corbyn and his own MPs, including many of his own front bench team who resigned, virtually en-bloc.
The new prime minister fired more criticism at Labour, at one point saying the opposition would spend the summer "tearing itself apart" with a leadership contest while her Conservative government would be "bringing this country back together".
After her 30 minutes' debut, political commentators praised her performance, some saying it was a barnstorming session by a self-assured and confident politician, who exactly a week earlier stepped into the shoes of outgoing prime minister David Cameron.
Her performance has shades of Margaret Thatcher, who in 1979 became Britain's first ever female prime minister, said one commentator.
"This was Maggie May. No wonder the Conservative MPs were delighted at this competent debut and the Labour ones despondent," said the tabloid Daily Mirror, traditional supporters of the Labour Party.
Meanwhile the Labour Party's deadline for new supporter-applications Wednesday evening showed that almost 184,000 people had signed up in just a two-day window, paying a fee of 25 pounds(33.09 U.S. dollars). It guarantees them a vote in the leadership election which sees Corbyn facing MP Owen Smith for the top job.
A spokesman in the Corbyn camp said it was reasonable to assume most of the new supporters were backers of the current leader.
The 172 MPs who backed the no-confidence vote are hoping that Smith, an MP representing one of the constituencies in the Welsh valleys, will win, ending Corbyn's year as the party leader.
If Corbyn is announced the winner on September 24 at Labour's annual conference in Liverpool, it could threaten the very future of the whole party, say some academic and political experts.
"This is the biggest crisis ever for Labour. Corbyn is likely to win and the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) will then have to swallow it until he leads them to electoral catastrophe in 2020," Professor Jon Tonge from the Department of Politics at the University of Liverpool told Xinhua Wednesday. Enditem