Starmer dismisses Tory attack on Rayner as ‘billionaire PM smearing working-class woman’ – UK politics live | Politics


Starmer dismisses Tory attack on Rayner as ‘billionaire PM smearing working-class woman’

Starmer says the Tories have been smearing a working-class woman.

He says Truss blames everyone, including the “poor old lettuce”, who she claims was part of the deep state.

It is not clear if Starmer is quoting the book, or the Daily Star splash.

Sunak says people would pay more tax under Labour.

UPDATE: Starmer said:

You’ve got a billionaire prime minister … whose family has used schemes to avoid millions of pounds’ worth of tax, smearing a working-class woman.

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Key events

Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, told Radio 4’s the World at One that he thought the Conservatives were using the Angela Rayner allegations as a deliberate distraction strategy. He said:

This is a familiar Conservative party playbook now. We saw this couple of years ago in relation to Durham [the “beergate” allegations] where we saw the same tactics used. I think it’s a very deliberate attempt to distract from just talking about the fact they’ve got £46bn of unfunded commitments.

Streeting said Rayner had repeated answered questions about this affair (she insists she has done nothing wrong) and he said she would be talking to Greater Manchester police. Predicting that Rayner would “draw a line under all of this and come out stronger”, he went on:

If people are in any doubt whatsoever about Angela Rayner’s integrity or confidence, look at the fact that she said if the police find she has broken the law, she will resign as deputy leader of the Labour party. That’s a stark contrast, by the way, to the prime minister who was fined for breaking the Covid rules he asked everyone else to follow.

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Labour says it’s ‘deeply concerning’ Sunak won’t rule out cutting NHS or pensions to fund £46bn national insurance plan

Labour has said it is “deeply concerning” that Rishi Sunak refused to rule out cutting the NHS or pensions, or putting up taxes, to fund his £46bn long-term plan to abolish national insurance. In a statement after PMQs, Pat McFadden, the party’s national campaign coordinator, said:

The prime minister was given three chances today to rule out cuts to the NHS, cuts to the state pension or income tax increases to pay for his completely unfunded £46bn plan to scrap national insurance. It will be deeply concerning for the whole country that he pointedly refused to do so.

In the week when Liz Truss has been busy reminding everyone of the consequences of unfunded Tory promises, the British public deserve answers. It’s time for Rishi Sunak to come clean and stop avoiding the question on everyone’s lips: how is he going to pay for it?

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I have beefed up the earlier post about Keir Starmer’s response to Rishi Sunak’s comment about Angela Rayner (see 12.06pm) with the best version we have of Starmer’s quote. He said:

You’ve got a billionaire prime minister … whose family has used schemes to avoid millions of pounds’ worth of tax, smearing a working-class woman.

You may have to refresh the page to get the update to appear.

As explained earlier (see 1.22pm), it was impossible to hear the full quote because Tory MPs were barracking so loudly.

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PMQs – snap verdict

Political aficionados tend to love general elections, but in some respect there’s a good reason to dread them too. At the moment when the policy debate should be at its most enlightening, it degenerates. Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former political strategist, once said that his policy for winning was to “flood the zone with shit”. That is a bit extreme as a description of today’s PMQs, but not by much.

Keir Starmer started with Liz Truss, and then for most of PMQs sought to resume the attack over Sunak’s long-term £46bn plan to abolish national insurance, which Labour (quite reasonably) argues would require either massive spending cuts or tax increases. But, in his very first response, Sunak threw the Angela Rayner story on the table and from then on he just blasted back with a hail of smear and negativity. Of course, this is not unprecendented. PMQs is like this much of the time. But today it felt excessive, and linked to the imminent arrival of the local elections next month, and the general election soon.

Starmer must have been expecting Sunak to attack him over Rayner. He had a response (see 12.06pm) where he said something about how a “billionaire prime minister” was “smearing a working-class woman” – but I don’t have the full quote because Tory MPs were shouting so loudly it was impossible to hear what he was saying. His strongest rebuttal line on this story was drowned out.

In the rest of his response, Sunak deployed the full gamut of CCHQ attack lines against Labour: Wales, Corbyn, Birmingham, taxes etc. But it was quite suprising to hear him claim: “A few weeks ago [Starmer] finally admitted it to The Sun, what did he say he would do? I quote, he said ‘we would put up taxes’.” The Tories have also been running this seven-second clip on social media, but it is a textbook example of selective quotation dishonesty. What Starmer actually said was: “We are going to put up taxes, we’ve already said that, in relation to the VAT on private schools, the non-dom tax status, some of the loopholes that we’ve identified … we do not want to see an increase on tax for working people.”

To be fair to Sunak, within the context of PMQs (judging it according to its own “rules”, and by how it is perceived by MPs) all this worked for him very well, and he saw off Starmer quite easily. His first response was an effective pivot to the Rayner story.

All I would say is [Starmer] ought to spend a bit less time reading that book and a bit more time reading the deputy leader’s [Angela Rayner] tax advice.

This was not Oscar Wilde, but in Commons terms it counts as high wit. His later jibe about Hizb ut-Tahrir (see 12.19pm) was crude and unfair, but punchy and memorable too.

There must be a better way of holding prime ministers to account. But, if Starmer wins the next election, he does not seem inclined to try to find one. In his new biography, Tom Baldwin quotes Starmer as saying of PMQs: “It is what it is and I don’t see any prospect of it changing any time soon.”

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Preet Kaur Gill (Lab) says Andy Street in the West Midlands has only built 46 social homes.

Sunak says, unlike Labout in London, Street has hit all his housing targets. He says the Tories will protect people from what happened in Birmingham under Labour.

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Catherine McKinnell (Lab) says crime levels in “Tory-run Teesside” are some of the highest in the country. She says Sunak has lost control of crime.

Sunak says: “What a joke.” He says people with a Tory police and crime commissioner are less likely to be victims of burglary or robbbery.

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George Galloway (Workers Party of Britain) says on Monday Rishi Sunak told MPs he was going to call Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli PM. How did it go, and will Sunak do if Netanyahu ignores is call not to escalate the situation.

Sunak says he told Netanyahu that “significant escalation is not in anyone’s interest, and it’s a time for calm heads to prevail”.

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Nickie Aiken (Con) criticises Sadiq Khan’s record on policing.

Sunak says Khan is failing London on crime. He goes on:

Burglary is down across England. It’s up in London. Violent crime is down across England but up in London. And the Labour mayor is the only one of 43 police and crime commissioners to have missed his police recruitment target.

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Alison Thewliss (SNP) says a Ukrainian MP is in the gallery. How does the PM response to president Zelenskiy’s claim that his country would not be suffering if it had proper air defence.

Sunak says air defence is an important part of the UK aid being supplied to Ukraine.

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Daniel Zeichner (Lab) says Sunak dodged the questions about Liz Truss earlier. What does he think was her greatest acheivement?

Sunak says, while Labour wanted to take the UK back into the EU, Truss was signing trade deals. As a result the UK is now the fourth largest exporter in the world, he says.

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Sarah Olney (Lib Dem) asks about a constituent raped by a boyfriend. She was told that reading the transcript of her trial would help her come to terms with what happened. But she was told it would cost £7,000 to get one. In another case someone was told they would have to pay £22,000 to get a transcript. She says the constituent is in the gallery. Will the government help?

Sunak says homicide victims can already get these court transcripts. He says the government wants to reduce transcript costs for other crime victims.

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