Who won PMQs as Dominic Raab and Angela Rayner went into battle

Dominic Raab filled in for Boris Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions in a strong performance undermined by comments that went too far.

Angela Rayner replaced Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during the Commons session, raising hopes of a spectacle.

The Labour deputy leader is far better in this environment than Sir Keir, and able to think on her feet, is funny and critical without feeling like she’s reading from a script.

Watching her grill Mr Raab over the cost-of-living crisis, the Prime Minister’s record, and boldly demanding a general election, it was not difficult to wonder if she would have made a better leader.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab winks at Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner during Prime Minister's Questions.

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On the by-election defeats, Ms Rayner said: “This week the Government lost two by-elections in one day, the first in three decades. It’s no wonder that the Prime Minister has fled the country and left the honourable member to carry the can.

“The Prime Minister isn’t just losing the room, he is losing their country. But instead of showing some humility, he intends to limp on until the 2030s.

"So, does he think the Cabinet will prop him up for this long?”

Mr Raab used the question to brag about the size of the Tory majority and mock Ms Rayner’s own political aspirations.

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He said: “I gently point out to her that we want this Prime Minister going a lot longer than she wants the leader of the Labour Party.

“We have got a working majority of 75. We are focusing on delivering for the British people.”

That was the theme of the session. Ms Rayner would make strong arguments only to be met with a wry smile and at one point even a wink.

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Whereas the Prime Minister so often ends up just shouting things he has said before, Mr Raab’s lines felt more natural and therefore vicious.

Unfortunately his performance was tarnished by a misplaced gag about Ms Rayner attending the opera.

He said: “Where was she when the comrades were on the picket line last Thursday?

“She was at the Glyndebourne music festival sipping champagne, listening to opera. Champagne socialism is back in the Labour Party.”

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Criticising a working-class woman going to the opera reeks of classism, and left a sour taste in the mouth after an otherwise dominant performance.

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