Who won today's PMQs? Sunak called 'rank' and 'pathetic' for blaming strikes on Labour

Keir Starmer grills Rishi Sunak on Nadhim Zahawi's tax scandal

Another Wednesday, another edition of PMQs.

This week, after weeks of dragging his heels, prime minister Rishi Sunak parted ways with tax-scandal hit Nadhim Zahawi, giving him his marching orders in no uncertain terms.

But leader of the opposition Keir Starmer still had questions about how Sunak failed to act upon reports about Zahawi sooner, and criticised him over his actions towards another potentially dodgy member of his cabinet, Dominic Raab, who is facing continued bullying allegations.

It was this and more that dominated today's proceedings, as Sunak reaches his first 100 days in office (congrats! xx).

Here's a rundown of everything that happened:

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Starmer: "The prime minister emerged from his hibernation at the weekend" 7/10

Starmer started proceedings on a withering note, referencing the speed or lack thereof of Sunak's decision to sack Zahawi. He questioned whether Sunak was "just too uncurious" to question the press coverage about Zahawi.

Sunak: "No issues were raised with me at the time of his appointment," 6/10

The PM parroted the same old dull defence, which looks incredibly unbelievable given how many reports about Zahawi went round in the months before he was sacked, but what else could he say?

So Starmer then turned to Raab. Bullying allegations against the deputy prime minister are mounting up. When asked about them, Sunak engaged in some classic whataboutery and brought up Labour MP Rosie Duffield's claim being in Labour reminded her of an "abusive relationship" because of the party's reaction to her controversial trans views.

Sunak: "He ought to be supporting her... if he can' be trusted to stand up for the women in his party, he can't be trusted to stand up for Britain," 1/10

This was a low moment for the PM, using a complicated and nuanced political situation in a desperate attempt to score cheap political points.

Starmer: "How would he feel if one of his friends or relatives was forced to work for a bully simply because the man at the top was too weak to do anything about it?" 8/10

Starmer wouldn't be dragged to the gutter and quickly turned things around to the matter at hand, and made an evocative plea to Sunak about Raab's alleged behaviour, while cementing his continual claim that the PM is "weak".

Sunak: "Carping from the sidelines and never standing up for a principle that matters," 5/10

How did Sunak respond? Oh, of course. He brought up Jeremy Corbyn. Again. He criticised Starmer for being a member of his shadow cabinet despite now criticising him for spreading "hate".

If you did a shot every time Sunak mentioned Corbyn you would get drunk very quickly indeed and may well think you've travelled back in time to 2019 when he was still the Labour leader.

Sunak: "He voted with Just Stop Oil... he sides with extremists pro and union bosses, we stand up for hardworking Britons and schoolchildren," 7/10

By bringing up Corbyn, Sunak had showed all the rhetorical subtlety of a toddler arguing with their parents, but he finally showed a glimmer of political nous making his expensive education (possibly) worth it when he linked Starmer to both the protest group Just Stop Oil and the ongoing disruptive strikes.

Of course, claiming that Labour is fully funded by unions unaffiliated with the party and protest groups that have shown any sort of allegiance to a major political party, but as they say - don't let the truth get in the way of a good story.

By painting the Tories, on the other hand, as on the side of children and workers, Sunak created a clear dividing line that might have had some impact...

Starmer "After 13 years in power, trying to blame the Labour Party for his failure to sort out the strikes - it's rank, pathetic," 9/10

If not for the small fact, as Starmer made clear, that the Tories are the party in power, not Labour, and so they are the party responsible for trying to stop the biggest strike action in decades from going ahead.

Sunak then quickly shoehorned in his five priorities for government in his final answer to Starmer, which would be wise if they had as much punch as previously political slogans like "take back control" but their vagueness means they will once again go in one ear, and out the other.


This was a combative episode of PMQs which left us turning down the volume on our televisions.

Sunak and Starmer showed mutual animosity so palpable, we'd send them on a bonding retreat to calm the atmosphere if their clash wasn't so entertaining.

It is starting to become evident, almost 100 days into his premiership, that Sunak just isn't a very good communicator, debater, or general speaker.

Week after week he bangs on about Corbyn, cementing his cult-like status on the left, and failing to turn people off Starmer - the man actually in charge of Labour.

Week after week he portrays himself as a weak Johnson tribute act, blaming Labour for Tory failures, shouting out buzzwords that don't have enough buzz and resorting to culture wars to score points rather than answering questions.

Week after week he slides down the polls with the pace of a greasy child at a waterpark and week after week Starmer wins just by virtue of not being Sunak.

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