Rishi Sunak says Suella Braverman 'has apologised' for confidential email leak
BBC

Another Wednesday, another PMQs…

Rishi Sunak faces questions for only the second time in the Commons, with leader of the opposition focusing on asylum processing in his line of interrogation.

Sunak made an uncertain start to life as leader of the country last time out and it was a question of whether he’d grow in stature during the second PMQs. The session also came just hours after Rishi Sunak announced his first major U-turn as PM, confirming that he would be attending the Cop27 climate summit in Egypt after all.

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But who came out on top on Wednesday afternoon? See our verdict on the exchanges below.

Sunak: "Suella Braverman is getting on with her job" 2/10

The first question is a simple one - why is Home Secretary Suella Braverman still in a job.

Same answer from last week (that she “made an error of judgement” and has recognised her error) and just as unconvincing as it was then.

Starmer: "The asylum system is broken. Who broke it?" 8/10

Starmer starts strongly, quoting home secretary Braverman, who said that the “asylum system is broken” when the Tories have been in power for 12 years.

Sunak: “We delivered Brexit” 0/10

Failing to answer the question and instead turning the conversation to Brexit, Sunak already looks like he’ll be following the Johnson playbook of spouting the same non-sequiturs, jargon and rhetoric. His biggest plan of attack at the moment seems to be calling Starmer a remainer. It's a bad start.

Starmer: “Rwanda plan isn’t working” 7/10

Starmer again hits out at the government’s attempts to tackle illegal immigration, hitting out at the Rwanda deal which ‘isn’t working’ and cost UK taxpayers £120million. Starmer isn’t having to work hard to put the PM under pressure.

He goes on to accuse Sunak of ‘blaming others and deflecting’.

Sunak: ‘We have not processed enough asylum claims,’ 1/10

After being asked how many people that arrived in small boats to the UK had been processed for asylum claims, Sunak is forced to concede that “not enough” is the answer.

“That’s what we’re going to fix,” he says, before stating that the government had upped the number of processing officials by 80 per cent. Sunak doesn’t seem to be getting much support from the benches behind him.

Starmer: "Braverman has better chance of becoming PM than process an asylum claim in a year" 6/10

Again the leader of the opposition attacks Sunak on the government’s asylum record, stating that only four per cent of claimants have been processed properly. He then states that bookies have the odds of Braverman becoming PM in the next 12 months than processing a single applicant.

Sunak: "Significant action is being taken" 3/10

‘Significant steps to demonstrate we are getting a grip of this system’, according to Sunak. No one seems all that convinced...

Starmer: “Start governing for once,” 7/10

Starmer seems to be gaining a little momentum as he criticises the PM’s “grubby deal” with Braverman to put her back in the job of home secretary – something which he touched on last week. He also calls for direct action, and the speaker is forced to step in to calm down the vociferous backbenchers.

Sunak: “This is the person who told the BBC in 2019 that Jeremy Corbyn would make a great Prime Minister,” 0/10

More desperate stuff from Sunak. The PM can’t get anything going in the chamber so far and instead reaches for the Johnson playbook once again. He points out that Starmer said in 2019 that he thought Corbyn would make a good prime minister. The Tories lap it up, but is this really all Sunak has got?

Verdict

Not a classic showdown in the Commons, it has to be said. Starmer tried to hammer Sunak on asylum seekers and largely did well. Braverman will continue to be an attack point for Labour as long as she remains in the job.

It was a really feeble effort in response from Sunak, and it also proved that is following Johnson’s tactics at the dispatch box. Chucking out the familiar unrelated points about ‘getting Brexit done’ when quizzed on asylum claimants feels like classic Johnson. Talking about Jeremy Corbyn in 2022, years after he was last on the Labour front bench, and after all the chaos that the Conservative party have embodied over recent months feels pretty pathetic too.

Sunak still fails to convince and while he certainly could have been stronger in his line of questioning, Starmer barely has to lift a finger to put him under pressure and get him to concede on the Conservative’s record of processing asylum applications.

Here's what others made of Wednesday's session.







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