Saturday, February 4, 2023
HomeWorldPMQs live: Keir Starmer says Rishi Sunak ‘too weak’ to sack Zahawi...

PMQs live: Keir Starmer says Rishi Sunak ‘too weak’ to sack Zahawi amid pressure over Tory chairman to quit


Starmer says Sunak too weak to sack Zahawi

Starmer says we all know why Sunak did not want to ask a colleague about tax avoidance. Starmer says failure to sack Zahawi shows “how hopelessly weak he is”. Does he think this job is too big for him?

Sunak says, when he disagreed with a leader, he resigned. But Starmer served in Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet and did not resign. That is weak. Starmer has no principles at all, he says.

Key events

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James Duddridge (Con) asks if the govenrment will continue to help people with the cost of living, not just this winter but next winter.

Sunak says, as the energy support scheme evolves, it will still be there next winter, helping families with around £500.

Tulip Siddiq (Lab) asks about the disappearance of 200 asylum-seeking children from hotels in the UK. Is the UK a safe haven for vulnerable children?

Sunak says the UK has provided refuge to hundreds of thousands of people over the past few years. But the reports about children are concerning. He says this is one reason why he wants to end the use of hotels for unaccompanied asylum seekers.

Sir Oliver Heald (Con) asks what extra money is being made available for urgent mental health care.

Sunak says people in mental health crisis deserve emergency care. He sums up the announcement he promoted with a visit on Monday.

Jason McCartney (Con) asks about the TransPennine Express, and suggesets it should lose its contract.

Sunak says the TransPennine Express service is not acceptable. If ministers conclude the service cannot be turned round, the contract might not be renewed, he suggests.

Rupa Huq (Lab) says London has it all, including “the perfect time zone for money laundering”. When will the National Crime Agency be properly funded so that we can be a world leader in tackling fraud.

Sunak says the government is currently passing the economic crime bill, which will address this.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, asked about the case of an anti-abortion protester arrested for a protest that involved praying outside an abortion clinic. Does the PM support freedom of religion?

Sunak says he does, but that those rights must be balanced against the need to protect women visiting abortion centres from intimidation.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, also stresses the value of Holocaust memorial day.

What advice would the PM have for anyone worried about their finances? Get someone to organise a £800,000 loan? Set up an offshore trust in Gibraltar? Or apply for non-dom status.

Sunak mentions things the government is doing to help people with their finances.

Flynn says he does not know what question Sunak was answering. He says Sunak is protecting Nadhim Zahawi, and the former PM. He says people in Scotland view the Tories as “a parcel of rogues”.

Sunak says he believes in due process.

Sunak says off-rolling from schools is unacceptable in any form. It could lead to a school’s leadership being judged inadequate by Ofsted, he says.

Starmer says Sunak too weak to sack Zahawi

Starmer says we all know why Sunak did not want to ask a colleague about tax avoidance. Starmer says failure to sack Zahawi shows “how hopelessly weak he is”. Does he think this job is too big for him?

Sunak says, when he disagreed with a leader, he resigned. But Starmer served in Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet and did not resign. That is weak. Starmer has no principles at all, he says.

Starmer says it should be obvious that someone who tries to avoid tax cannot be in charge of tax. He is surprised that Sunak could not say that. He asks what has changed since last week?

Sunak says Starmer was reading from a prepared statement, and did not listen to the last answer. More information came out. It would have been expedient to resolve this by 12 noon Wednesday. But he believes in “proper due process”, he says. He says Starmer and Angela Rayner both called for the appointment of an ethics adviser. Now that adviser is doing his job. Starmer is just indulging in “opportunism”.

Starmer says, in the light of what happened about Zara, Sunak should not be boasting about protecting women.

Does the PM agree that anyone who does not pay their taxes should not be in charge of the nation’s money?

Sunak says this happened before he was PM. No issues were raised when he appointed Nadhim Zahawi to his current role. Since last week, more information has come out. It is right that there is an investigation to establish the facts.

Starmer says he has spoken to Zara’s family who say the government has blood on its hands over this. Does he accept that?

Sunak says his heart goes out to the family. He says £150m a year is being put into the probation service. He says tough sentencing is important too. The government passed a sentencing act that Labour opposed.

Starmer says the report said staff vacancies and excessive workloads were factors. Those are ministerial responsiblities. Does the PM accept that?

Sunak avoids that question and instead lists actions being taken now.

Keir Starmer stresses the importance of Holocaust memorial day.

He asks about the death of Zara Aleena. Her killer is a violent thug. He was not fit to walk the same streets. But he was free to walk those streets. The probation inspectorate says opportunities were missed to save her life. Does the PM accept those findings?

Sunak says this was a terrible crime. He says in this, and another similar cases, there were failings in the risk assessment.





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