Who won today's PMQs? Starmer calls Sunak 'hopelessly weak' over Zahawi
By Kate Plummer,2023-01-29
As news of Nadhim Zahawi's tax affairs continued dominating the news, Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer appeared in the commons to tackle that and other issues at PMQs.
The prime minister and the leader of the opposition stared each other down at the weekly session where they clashed on this issue as well as why Zara Aleena's killer was wrongly assessed as a medium risk by probation staff.
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Who came up on top and who floundered?
Here's what happened:
Sunak: "The action we are taking is already making a difference," 3/10
After Starmer brought up the tragic murder of Aleena, Sunak issued vague platitudes and said measures to increase safety for women were in progress.
Starmer: "It is yet another vital public service on its knees after 13 years of Tory government," 8/10
While Starmer used the incident to draw comparisons with other problems with how Britain is run, with problems in the NHS and other services also causing problems.
He appeared to place the blame on the murder on the way the Tories govern and did so eloquently.
So much so that Sunak appeared rattled in response and spectacularly failing to read the room, he tried to energise his backbenches and moan about Labour not supporting the controversial Police Crime and Sentencing Bill that he said was making a difference in policing.
Starmer: "I really don't think the prime minister should be boasting about the protection he is putting in place for women and I'm not going to take lectures from him on that." 8/10
Like a teacher about to put a naughty teenager in detention, a formidable Starmer put the prime minister in his place and commanded the room once more before moving on to Zahawi's tax affairs.
Sunak: "The issues in question occurred before I was prime minister," 2/10
Sunak gave a pathetic response when questioned about it, essentially asking people not to blame him because he wasn't involved when Zahawi's tax affairs were initially probed. He defended himself for not launching an investigation sooner but moaned he didn't know all the ins and outs at the time.
Starmer prodded him further and Sunak got wound up.
Sunak: "I know he reads form these prepared sheets but he should actually listen to what I say," 7/10
Looks like sassy Sunak came out...
Starmer: "His failure to sack him.. shows how hopelessly weak he is," 8/10
But as did sassy Starmer who never misses an opportunity to call his counterpart "weak". If the cap fits...
He then asked the prime minister if the job of leading the country was "too big for him" which was delightfully patronising.
Sunak: "I stand by my values and my principles even when it is difficult," 5/10
After coming out with this meaningless waffle, Sunak then accused Starmer of acting without principle for remaining on the Labour front bench when Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the party, despite reports of antisemitism occuring at the time.
At the start of proceedings the PM was acknowledging the upcoming Holocaust Memorial Day, by the end he was using antisemitism to score cheap political points.
Stay classy, Sunak.
Every TV series have their filler episodes and PMQs is no different.
This debate veered from one direction to the other and failed to really get off the ground, covering some of the same ground as last weeks with both the PM and the leader of the opposition relying on old lines of attack just to get through it.
Perhaps they were both really hungry and wanted to get on their lunch breaks?
We'll see what happens next week.
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