Rishi Sunak was accused of overseeing “uncontrolled immigration” into the UK as home secretary Suella Braverman was targeted with a joke about not understanding “points-based systems”.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer teased Ms Braverman multiple times in a terse opening exchange at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), but his key lines of attack were targeted at the UK Government record on immigration under Mr Sunak.
The attack lines were delivered little more than an hour after it was confirmed Ms Braverman would not face an investigation for asking officials whether she could have a private speed awareness course.
Mrs Braverman had been accused by opponents of breaching the code by asking taxpayer-funded civil servants to help with a private matter.
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle separately ordered a Conservative MP to leave PMQs after being accused of repeated heckling.
Paul Bristow was made to leave the Commons chamber after fewer than five minutes of the weekly clash between Mr Sunak and Sir Keir. The Peterborough MP’s forced exit came shortly after Sir Lindsay appealed to both sides of the House to show respect and stop being noisy.
Leading questioning, Sir Keir said: “The figures are out – it’s a quarter of a million work visas were issued last year [to foreign nationals]. He [Mr Sunak] knows that answer, he just doesn’t want to give it. And the new numbers tomorrow are expected to be even higher.
"The Prime Minister stood on three Tory manifestos, each one promised to reduce immigration, each promised growth … why does he think his home secretary seems to have such a problem coping with points-based systems?”
The quip was greeted with jeers from the Commons.
Mr Sunak responded: “Just this week we announced the biggest every single measure to tackle legal migration, removing the right for international students to bring dependents, toughening the rules on post-study work, and reviewing maintenance requirements.
“But what is [Sir Keir’s] contribution? There are absolutely no ideas … absolutely no semblance that there would be any control. Why? Because he believes in an open-door migration policy.”
The Labour leader then added: “They’ve lost control of the economy, they’ve lost control of public services, and now they’ve lost control of immigration. And if he [Mr Sunak] was serious about weaning his Government off the immigration lever, he would get serious about wages in Britain and get serious about skills and training … his policies are holding working people back, and all he offers is more of the same.
"But fear not, because speeding into the void left by the Prime Minister comes the home secretary. Not with a plan for skills, growth or wages, no. Her big idea is for British workers to become fruit pickers, just in case, I can’t believe she said this, they forget how to do things.”