Prime minister’s questions: a shouty, jeery, very occasionally useful advert for British politics. Here’s what you need to know from the latest session in POLITICO’s weekly run-through.
What they sparred about: Westminster has been single-minded this week in its obsession with Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda plan — and a key vote on its future is due Wednesday evening. Sensing this, Keir Starmer focused all of his questions on the PM’s yet-to-be-successful attempts to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda — and asked three times how the government managed to lose contact with 85 percent of the 5,000 people it earmarked for removal to Rwanda.
Armed with a prop: After sidestepping that particular question, Sunak was ready to go on the attack, and came armed with a prop for the occasion. He brandished a copy of a legal textbook on European human rights law once authored by Keir Starmer — the front cover even featured the EU’s yellow stars — to make a point about the Labour leader’s apparent fondness for the European lawyers that have thwarted his Rwanda plan.
Mixed reviews: The stunt earned the PM a ticking off from the Speaker for using props, while “utterly pathetic nonsense” was Starmer’s verdict.
Tory cheer of the day: “When I see a group chanting ‘jihad’ on our streets, I ban them. He invoices them!,” Sunak said for no reason in particular after a back-and-forth focused entirely on migration. The PM was referring to the proscription of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group Starmer once defended while a lawyer. The flourish was greeted with glee by his baying backbenchers.
On to the important stuff: Tory backbencher Maria Miller raised the inclusion of non-disclosure agreements in some severance packages, which she says were used to silence the victims of the Post Office Horizon scandal which has gripped Westminster in recent weeks. Sunak said the Ministry of Justice is looking into her request for an outright ban on the practice.
And the less important stuff: Another Tory backbencher, Nick Fletcher, used his 30 seconds in the limelight to … ask Sunak to come to Doncaster. He did say he would use the occasion, if it ever happens, to press the PM on his hobby horses of appointing a ‘minister for men,’ and building a new hospital in the area.
Totally non-scientific scores on the door: Typical low-energy fare when more parliamentary drama is on the way. But POLITICO — a simple being — does love a prop.
Rishi Sunak 6/10 … Keir Starmer 5/10 … Finding creative ways to dodge a question and distract gullible political reporters 10/10.