Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Starmer skewers Sunak on Rwanda at PMQs

Keir Starmer at PMQs (Credit: Parliamentlive.tv)

It was another clear win for Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions today. The Labour leader decided to take a mocking tilt at the latest iteration of the Rwanda policy.

He asked Rishi Sunak how successful it had been: ‘If the purpose of the Rwanda gimmick was to solve a political headache of the Tories’ own making, to get people out of the country who they simply couldn’t deal with, then it’s been a resounding success. After all, they’ve managed to send three Home Secretaries so the whole country can be grateful. Apart from members of his own cabinet, how many people has the Prime Minister sent to Rwanda?’

The mockery from Starmer sticks because so few of Sunak’s backbenchers are prepared to cheer him along on this

Sunak’s response was that this was the right policy and the Labour leader was ‘on the side of the people smugglers’. Starmer then became rather lawyerly and started reading from sections of the treaty that James Cleverly signed yesterday in Kigali.

He said that the treaty included ‘arrangements for the United Kingdom to resettle a portion of Rwanda’s most vulnerable refugees in the United Kingdom’, and asked how many refugees would be coming to the UK under the agreement. Sunak returned to the point that he and Cleverly have been making over the past 24 hours, which is that the treaty ‘addresses all the concerns of the Supreme Court’. He then added another one of  his regular claims that Labour’s immigration policy ‘would see us accept 100,000 illegal migrants’.

Starmer went back to the treaty, while Sunak moved onto the government’s attempts to cut legal migration and whether Labour supported the measures announced this week. In later answers, Sunak accused Labour of not being ‘interested in stopping the boats’, while Starmer depicted the Rwandan government as enjoying the benefits of the deal without actually taking in any asylum seekers.

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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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