Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Starmer chooses not to probe Sunak on Post Office

(Photo: Parliament TV)

Keir Starmer clearly judged that while the Post Office scandal is the hot topic today, voters will be thinking about other things come election time. And so he used the first Prime Minister’s Questions of the year to attack Rishi Sunak on the Rwanda policy, just as the Tory row over that kicks off again.

The Labour leader opened with a reasonably jocular question about ‘one ambitious Tory MP’ who had reservations about the scheme when Boris Johnson first proposed it. ‘He agreed with Labour that it wouldn’t work, that it was a waste of money, it was the latest in a long line of gimmicks. Does the Prime Minister know what happened to that MP?’ As the Commons laughed, Sunak responded that this was a ‘document that he hasn’t seen, I haven’t seen’ – he was presented with its contents on Sunday when he appeared on Laura Kuenssberg’s show. He added that what was important was that ‘you do need to stop the boats, and that’s what this government and that MP is going to deliver’. 

Starmer said it was ‘hardly a surprise he wanted to scrap the scheme when he was trying to sneak in as Tory leader’ (that’s a new line from the Labour leader about Sunak’s rise to power), given the costs and the fact the boat crossings are still happening. He turned back a regular Tory attack line on his own leadership, asking the chamber ‘which member should we listen to, the one before us today, or the one who used to believe in something?’ Tory MPs made theatrical noises of disbelief at this while Sunak argued that the government was ensuring an effective deterrence to control migration, and that it was Starmer who was opposed to a proper policy.

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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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