Rishi Sunak tears into Labour at first PMQs, fends off attacks on his wife and wealth


LONDON: It was like a wrestling ring when Rishi Sunak faced off against Sir Keir Starmer in his first ever PMQs on Wednesday. The Opposition had a series of blows ready, from the existence of non-dom status to Sunak’s wealth to the reappointment of the home secretary, Suella Braverman. But Sunak was well prepared and with confidence and swagger gave back as good as he got.
His first PMQs began to loud cheers and banging of furniture by the Tories, which led the Speaker to intervene and say, “Don’t damage the furniture, cheer him by all means…”
Starmer, leader of the Labour party, began by saying: “The first British Asian prime minister is a significant moment in our national story and it is a reminder that for all the challenges we face as a country, Britain is a place where people of all races and beliefs can fulfil their dreams. That is not true in every country.” Then his tone changed and he asked angrily: “Was his home secretary right to resign last week for a breach of security?”

Sunak said Braverman made an error of judgment but she recognised her mistake and that is why he was delighted to welcome her back into a “united cabinet that brings stability to the heart of government”. With greater energy he said Braverman would be focused on cracking down on criminals and defending the UK’s borders, while Labour “remains soft on crime and in favour of unlimited immigration.
Starmer retorted, “I ran the Crown Prosecution Service for five years. I know first-hand how important it is we have a home secretary whose integrity and professionalism are beyond question…”
“I would hope he would welcome the news there are over 50,000 new police officers on our streets and the home secretary will support them to tackle burglaries while the party opposite will be backing the lunatic protesting fringe that are stopping working people going about their lives,” Sunak shouted back.

“He is so weak he has done a done a grubby deal trading national security because he was scared to lose another election. There is a new Tory at the top but as is always with them — party first and country second,” Starmer frothed.
Sunak then asked why Starmer supported Jeremy Corbyn a few years ago if he put country first. This sparked huge cheers from the Tory backbenches.
Starmer then tore into Sunak over the existence of “non-dom status” — the status Sunak’s multi-millionaire wife, Akshata Murty, has in the UK. “The government currently allows very rich people to live here but register abroad for tax purposes. I don’t need to explain to the PM how non-dom status works — he already knows. It costs the treasury £3.2 billion every year. Why doesn’t he put his money where his mouth is and get rid of it,” Starmer asked.

Unfazed by the veiled attack on his wife, Sunak said: “We will have to take difficult decisions to restore economic stability and confidence. We will do this in a fair way and always protect the most vulnerable. I am glad that the party opposite has finally realised that spending does need to be paid for.” This led to laughter from the Tory backbenches.
“I know he has been away for a few weeks, but he should have listened to what has been going on for the last two,” Starmer said, laughing. “I am surprised he is still defending non-dom status. He pretends he is on the side of working people, but in private he says something different. Over the summer he was secretly recorded at a garden party in Tunbridge Wells boasting to a group of Tory members that he personally moved money away from deprived areas to wealthy areas. Why doesn’t he now undo the changes he made to those funding formulas?”
Sunak responded that he knew Starmer “rarely left north London” — a dig at Starmer being part of the metropolitan elite — and said that were he to do so he would know there are deprived areas in rural and coastal communities and across the south.
Furious, Starmer replied: “Even his own side knows he is not on the side of working people. That is why the only time he ran in a competitive election he got trounced by the former prime minister (Liz Truss), who herself got beaten by a lettuce,” this to great laughter from Labour. He then asked for a general election.
Sunak replied that talking of mandates was “a bit rich from the person who tried to overturn the biggest democratic vote in our country’s history”, a reference to the EU referendum, and said the Tories had a mandate to govern from the 2019 election that Labour lost.
Labour MP Richard Burgon said, “A nurse would have to work over 20,000 years in order to match the vast wealth of this prime minister” and suggested he introduce wealth taxes instead of austerity.
Sunak appeared unfazed by this attack on his wealth and said there had been pay increases for nurses and that he would approach difficult decisions with fairness and compassion.

Source link