PMQs analysis: Rishi Sunak flounders and even brings props as Rwanda bill devours his premiership

The Prime Minister struggled to defend his immigration policy.

There was a long period during Sir Keir Starmer’s tenure where he struggled at PMQs. MPs would lament his tendency to miss open goals, his failure to properly weaponize Government failings and a general lack of nous when it came to winning what is a performance, rather than debate.

However, watching the Labour leader skewer Rishi Sunak on details while also throwing in jokes, it was clear that period has gone. Sir Keir is on track to be Prime Minister, and the harder Mr Sunak tries, the worse it seems to get.

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In the aftermath of a massive rebellion over the Rwanda scheme, this was always going to be a difficult session for the Prime Minister, but in previous setbacks he’s come out swinging. Today, he, his MPs and Government just looked tired.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer challenged the Prime Minister over immigration.Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer challenged the Prime Minister over immigration.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer challenged the Prime Minister over immigration.

He wasn’t helped by the Labour leader raising the Government being forced to admit that it has lost contact with 85 per cent of the 5,000 people earmarked for removal to Rwanda.

That’s not a question that warrants pithy one-liner, but a riposte and explanation, ideally a denial. Instead, Mr Sunak could only criticise Labour, failing to answer four times how the Government had managed to lose 4000 people.

The line of questioning isn’t one that people fall on different sides over depending on their politics, it speaks to incompetence. 4000 people being missing is a hard stat in the truest sense, an issue there is no deflection from. On it’s own, it’s a flame the Government needs to put out. In the context of a Rwanda bill, it is a fireball, the issues even more damning seen together.

Pressing further, the former head of the CPS said: “Spending £400 million on a plan not to get anybody to Rwanda whilst losing 4,000 people is not a plan, it’s a farce. Only this Government can waste hundreds of millions of pounds on a removals policy that doesn’t remove anyone”. It’s funny and it’s based in fact, the two requirements for debating at PMQs.

Clearly enjoying himself, the Labour leader referenced how Mr Sunak had to be “talked out of scrapping” the Rwanda plan, adding: “When he sees his party tearing itself apart, hundreds of bald men scrapping over a single broken comb, doesn’t he wish that he had the courage to stick to his guns?”.The line momentarily saw Mr Sunak pause before speaking, as well as garnering laughs from his front bench. This is not the sign of a well-oiled machine.

There was one strong moment for the Prime Minister, however, who claimed Sir Keir had represented Hizb ut-Tahrir while working as a lawyer, a group the UK now plans to ban as a terror organisation.

He said: “When I see a group chanting jihad on our streets, I ban them, he invoices them.”

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The comment garnered cheers from his MPs, and CCHQ have already mocked up a poster accusing the Labour leader of defending terrorists.

In a desperate move, Mr Sunak also produced a report written by Sir Keir on European law to read from, only to be told off by the Speaker for bringing props.

Without answers, the Prime Minister has gone low. It’s going to be a brutal election.



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