Fiery Sunak locks horns with Starmer over economy, Brexit and Braverman in first PMQs as Prime Minister

26 October 2022, 13:17

Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak clashed over issues including the reappointment of Home Secretary Suella Braverman
Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak clashed over issues including the reappointment of Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer have gone head-to-head in a raucous first PMQs of the new Prime Minister's premiership.

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The Labour leader began questioning with this issue of Mr Sunak's Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

Ms Braverman was forced out of her post by Liz Truss for using her personal email to send sensitive documents just six days before she was rehired for the same role by Mr Sunak.

Sir Keir quizzed him on the appointment, asking whether she was "right" to leave the role because of a "deliberate" breach of security.

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Mr Sunak said Ms Braverman had "made an error of judgement" but said she "recognised that".

"She raised the matter and she accepted her mistake," he said.

"And that's why I was delighted to welcome her back."

Sir Keir dug deeper, saying Mr Sunak had promised to bring "integrity, professionalism and accountability" to Government on the steps of Downing Street yesterday.

"I know first hand how important it is that we have a Home Secretary whose integrity and professionalism are beyond question," he said.

"So, have officials raised concerns about his decision to appoint her?"

Mr Sunak said he had "just addressed the issue of the Home Secretary" and said she was focussed on fighting crime.

But Sir Keir accused him of doing "a grubby deal, trading national security because he was scared to lose another leadership election".

Sir Keir Starmer puts new PM Rishi Sunak on the spot

Questioning then moved to the economy, which has been battered in recent weeks by a disastrous mini Budget by former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer argued the "Tories have crashed the economy", saying Mr Sunak admitted such during his speech yesterday.

He added that "those with broadest shoulders must step up".

"Does he agree?" he challenged Mr Sunak.

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Rishi Sunak replied: "[He] talked about party first and country second, perhaps he could explain to us why it was a few years ago he was supporting the member for Islington North [Jeremy Corbyn].

"My record is clear, when times are difficult in this country I will always protect the most vulnerable, that is the values of our compassionate party.

"We did it in Covid and we will do that again."

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Accusations about Brexit were then thrown around.

Sir Keir called for a general election, saying: "Why doesn't [Mr Sunak]... let working people have their say, and call a general election?"

Mr Sunak hit back: "He talks about mandates, about votes, about elections - it's a bit rich coming from the person who tried to overturn the biggest democratic vote in our country's history.

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"Our mandate is based on a manifesto that we were elected on, to remind him, an election that we won and they lost.

"A mandate that says we want a stronger NHS, better schools, safer streets, control of our borders and levelling up.

"That is the mandate that I and this government will deliver for the British people."