'PM too weak to get a grip': Rayner attacks Sunak amid Raab's …

Another week, another PMQs - and this time it came with a twist.

What with Rishi Sunak being away in Indonesia at the G20 conference, deputy PM and justice secretary Dominic Raab stepped up to the despatch box to face Labour deputy Angela Rayner, who, as is custom, steps into the shoes of leader Keir Starmer during deputy debates.

And what a week for Raab to step into the spotlight, given he's just called an independent investigation into the bullying allegations he is facing. The issue of bullying dominated last week's PMQs too as it came just after Gavin Williamson was forced to resign over his own alleged misdemeanors.

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Would this week be characterised as bullying round two? Or - with the latest inflation figures stressing the nation, and in advance of chancellor Jeremy Hunt's long-awaited fiscal statement tomorrow - would other issues take centre-stage?

Here's what happened:

Rayner: "This government is dragging its feet to protect its profits," 7/10

Rayner kicked things off by accusing the government of protecting businesses over people and not being strong enough on tax havens and people with non-dom status. It got things off to a punchy start.

Raab: "We want people to come to this country to create the jobs," 3/10

So Raab rehashed everyone's favourite Thatcherite A-Level politics arguments and claimed it was good to have people in the country who could bring wealth and jobs. He then said the government had made non-dom status "stricter" and that the government were doing a jolly good job thank you very much and a much better job than Labour would do.

Rayner: "Working people are paying the price for their choices," 7/10

Rayner succeeded in making things feel more personal, though, and pivoted discussions back to "working people" before saying the Tories prioritise corporate interests over household incomes.

She then discussed the UK's growth figures before delivering the following punchy line:

Rayner: "If there was a World Cup for growth we wouldn't even qualify," 8/10

Now there's an analogy people can relate to, particularly with the real World Cup around the corner. You might even say she really scored a goal there.

Raab: "I immediately asked the PM to set up an independent inquiry... I am confident I behaved professionally throughout," 6/10

After tackling Raab on the economy, Rayner took the ball and kicked it in another direction - the bullying allegations levelled against him - and yes, we will calm it with the football imagery now.

Raab said he had acted as soon as he found out about the allegations against him, which is odd since he called for an inquiry this morning and the first reports about his alleged behaviour emerged last Friday.

He denied specific reports such as an accusation he lobbed tomatoes across the room once in a rage, and said he was "confident" about his professional behaviour.

Rayner: "He's had to demand an investigation into himself because the PM is too weak to get a grip," 9/10

While he is "confident" it seems Rayner absolutely is not as she absolutely bodied Raab while putting the allegations about him into context of Sunak's time in power.

She said that since Sunak became PM around a month ago, he's already seen a "disgraced" minister resign (that would be Williamson") and said Suella Braverman, who has been hit with scandals of her own "still clings on".

"What's he still doing here?" she asked, before calling on the party to "drain the swamp" which was a bit Trumpian and weird.

Raab: "There's a reason why she's come to the despatch box with a usual mix of bluster and mudslinging, it's because they don't have a plan," 3/10

Raab finished things off by twisting things onto the Labour Party, who are not in power by the way!

He summoned the spirit of Boris Johnson and went on a rant about the Labour Party's so-called lack of "plan" while praising the Tories for everything they are doing.


This exchange didn't really get off the ground and rather than enter a meaty discussion about a particular topic, the two veered from topic to topic each fizzling out in turn - kind of like an awkward first date.

If we had to call it, we'd say Raab seemed stilted and awkward - he did step-in in the most awkward circumstances - while Rayner seemed like she didn't even have to try to get one over on him, so she came up on top.

Will next week see another Tory be accused of bullying or will we be able to discuss adult issues in more depth, like the small matter of the economy? Are we condemned to being governed by a bunch of people who act like grown-up versions of children running around a playground giving people wedgies and stealing their lunch money, or does anyone have any integrity?

Is the latter simile actually kind of true when you think about the Tories' record on free school meals, or is this getting more ridiculous than that football analogy earlier?

You be the judge.

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