PMQs: How the SNP's Stephen Flynn pinned down Rishi Sunak on child refugees and 'Stop the Boats' law
It was the Prime Minister’s first session since the resignation of Dominic Raab, but the former justice secretary’s exit wasn’t mentioned, seen by opposition as a battle already won.
Instead, Sir Keir Starmer made repeated references to the Prime Minister’s wealth, with the exchanges between the pair getting more personal by the week ahead of the local elections.
SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn may have feared he was in for a battle himself following the ongoing spat over auditors with his predecessor Ian Blackford, but he instead skewered the Prime Minister over his “stop the boats” Bill, leaving little space for witty retorts.
Mr Sunak was full of vigour following political chicanery seeing Labour mess up their own motion on sewage the night before, with his MPs loud and supportive as a result. However, challenged on being "out of touch", Mr Sunak made the mistake of dismissing his tax affairs as this "non-dom thing" – a line that will be on Labour campaign material for a long time.
Turning questions of high taxes back on Labour, he insisted there were “record numbers of people in work, [with] inequality now lower, the number of people in poverty lower, those in low pay, the lowest numbers on record.”
Mr Sunak also listed Government support, including almost eight million households receiving direct support payments, insisting “we are supporting working people”.
He added: “Just this week in the [House of Lords] we have seen his party side with protesters and with picketers, he [Sir Keir] should actually try backing working people.”
Sir Keir Starmer
Following the controversial adverts accusing Mr Sunak of not wanting sex offenders to be imprisoned, the Labour leader continued to go low by making extensive comments about Mr Sunak’s wealth.
Criticising the high number of tax rises, Sir Keir accused the Prime Minister of being “clueless about life outside of his bubble”. He said: “Is it any wonder that he smiles his way through the cost-of-living crisis while putting other people’s taxes up? Is it any wonder he doesn’t have a clue how food prices are hammering families across country, and is it any wonder that under him people are paying more and more and getting less and less?
“[He is] so out of touch that he looks at a petrol pump and a debit card like they’ve just arrived from Mars.”
Mr Flynn continued his growing confidence in the role, pinning the Prime Minister down on his “stop the boats” legislation by linking it to the crisis in Sudan.
He asked Mr Sunak to confirm whether a child refugee from Sudan arriving in the UK would be detained and deported, something the Prime Minister avoided answering, because the answer is yes.
Mr Flynn added: “To be clear, Mr Speaker, children in Sudan are already dying. Now whether it's a Tory slogan to ‘stop the boats" or a Labour slogan to 'stop small boats' – we need some more humanity in this debate, rather than a race to the bottom."
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