Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

When will Starmer and Sunak get with the times at PMQs?

Rishi Sunak at PMQs (Credit: Parliament TV)

‘Another week with no ideas. Absolutely no ideas for this country and absolutely no plans.’ Either Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer could have hurled that insult across the chamber at Prime Minister’s Questions this week – or indeed any week. Once again, both leaders were arguing over who didn’t have a plan, with a few contemporaneous references thrown in here and there so that viewers tuning in could be confident they weren’t watching a re-run.

Starmer made an early reference to the latest unrest in the Conservative party – unrest that’s currently almost more ludicrous than the overall situation, given Simon Clarke remains the only MP marching up the hill to replace Sunak.

The Labour leader joked: ‘The more they slag him off behind his back, the louder they cheer in here.’ Tory MPs were cheering, but it was probably reasonably sincere this time as Clarke’s Daily Telegraph article has so far served to remind most of them how ridiculous a party heading into an election looks if it is discussing replacing its leader again.

The slanging match between the two leaders lasted all six questions, and had very little new information, bar the Prime Minister’s insistence that the free childcare hours, which are supposed to start for two-year-olds in England in eight weeks, will be working. Other than that, it was just a list of accusations from both leaders. 

The chamber has become a lot more sweary of late

Starmer’s questions were a bit too rambling today, in part because he wasn’t really asking about anything specific. He was largely engaged in making the Tory party look laughable. He described the goings-on among Conservative MPs as a long episode of EastEnders. He also asked which minister had briefed the Times that the childcare policy was a ‘shitshow’ (the chamber has become a lot more sweary of late), accused the Conservatives of being the only party that had crashed the economy, and summarised their latest failings thus: ‘Making steelworkers redundant and failing to provide childcare is not a plan, Prime Minister, it is a farce.

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Isabel Hardman
Written by
Isabel Hardman
Isabel Hardman is assistant editor of The Spectator and author of Why We Get the Wrong Politicians. She also presents Radio 4’s Week in Westminster.

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