March 22, 2023
Prime Ministers Questions
This week’s PMQs has ended. It was fairly uneventful, with Labour focusing on crime – in relation to Casey report into the Met Police. There was little about Partygate and not a lot of noise from the Tory backbenches, despite rumbles of a Tory rebellion over today’s Brexit vote.
There’s a lot of politics on the table today – here’s a run down
- Brexit vote on the Windsor framework will take place this afternoon
- The new deal is highly likely to pass, but it will also serve as an indicator as to a potential Tory rebellion – Boris Johnson, Liz Truss have indicated they will vote against the government
- It could also be used to work out how much support Boris Johnson still has within the party
- Boris Johnson will appear at a LIVE televised committee hearing into whether he misled parliament over Partygate – the hearing will begin at 2 pm and will last for several hours
Will there be a short-term inquiry into preparing for the next pandemic?
Labour MP Graham Stringer says the leaked Matt Hancock messages show that during COVID, “at the very heart of government, science wasn’t being followed and rational discourse had been abandoned”.
He adds that this had consequences “for children’s education, mortality rates among the elderly, the economy and access to the health service”.
Mr Stringer says that “lessons must be learned” and “we can’t wait 10 years for the independent inquiry to tell us what we should do next time when the inevitable epidemic arrives”.
The PM refuses to agree to a short inquiry, saying instead that it’s for the public COVID inquiry to set out the timeline for the investigation.
Mr Sunak adds that the inquiry has heard evidence about “core political and administrative decision making”.
SNP is a ‘mess’ says Sunak
Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, starts with a tribute to PC Keith Palmer.
What worries the PM most about Brexit – the 4% hit to UK producivity, or three former Tory leaders voting against him this afternoon?
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, says it is two.
(Hoyle seems to be thinking of former Tory PMs. Theresa May is not voting against, but Iain Duncan Smith reportedly is.)
Sunak says the SNP is in a mess.
Flynn says people are facing the biggest fall in living standards since the war.
Sunak says the government is helping people with energy bills. – (The Guardian)
Does the PM accept the Casey review in full?
The Labour leader begins with a tribute to PC Keith Palmer, who was killed by a terrorist in Westminster six years ago.
Sir Keir Starmer segues to asking Rishi Sunak if he accepts the findings of the Casey review into the Metropolitan Police.
Mr Sunak says the government will be working with the London mayor and Met commissioner to ensure culture, standards and behaviour all improve.
Sir Keir says he takes Mr Sunak’s answer to mean that he does accept the report in full.
He says that the government should back Labour’s plan for proper mandatory vetting.
Mr Sunak replies that the College of Policing is updating its statutory code of practice for vetting, and that an independent report on re-inspection of all forces will be retuned within weeks.
Sir Keir says the current state of the system is the result of “sheer negligence” from the government.
He also criticises the government for not backing Labour’s plan to have “high quality rape and sexual offences units in every police force”.
Mr Sunak tries to shift some of the blame on to the Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan – who, as we know, oversees the Met.
The PM adds that the “way the rape victims were treated by the criminal justice system wasn’t good enough” – and that the government has worked to improve it.
Sir Keir chastises the Conservative backbenchers for cheering for their prime minster and the fact “that over 98% of rapists” are never put before the courts.
He against criticises “13 years of Tory government”, and a lack of prosecution of crimes like burglary.
The PM points out “neighbourhood crime” is down by 25% since 2019.
Sir Keir then pivots a favourite Conservative attack line back on Mr Sunak. The Labour leader says the PM is “so totally out of touch, and he needs to get out of Westminster, get out of Kensington”.
He adds that he doesn’t mean “Malibu”.
The Labour leaders says Mr Sunak needs to see the impact of low prosecutions – with 96% of burglaries not going before courts.
Mr Sunak says his north Yorkshire constituency is much further than Sir Keir’s north London seat.
He adds that crime is down, violent crime is down and burglary is down, and brands Sir Keir “soft on crime, soft on criminals”.
Sir Keir says the “only criminal investigation” Mr Sunak has been involved in is the one that saw him fined for breaking lockdown rules.
The Labour leader touts his record of prosecuting “countless rapists”.
And that is the end of their exchange. – (SKY NEWS)