Who won today's PMQs? Keir Starmer tells Rishi Sunak to 'stand up to his snowflake MPs'

'Tories are all talk and no action', Keir Starmer says

It’s that time of week again, and Rishi Sunak stood up in front of the Commons and faced the leader of the opposition Keir Starmer for Prime Minister's Questions today.

The session came as Gary Lineker returned to Match of the Day after criticising the government’s new controversial immigration plans.

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What came next was the usual tense exchanges and difficult questions, as the PM went toe to toe with Starmer once again.

Here's what happened:

Starmer: ‘Tory MPs launched a campaign to cancel Lineker’ 7/10

The leader of the opposition questions the Tories’ stance on defending free speech, asking how he feels about a “campaign” led by Tory MPs to “cancel a broadcaster”, referring to Lineker.

Straight in there with a question about Lineker, a predictable but OK start.

Sunak: “We’re looking forward to watching Match of the Day” 5/10

As dissent is heard in the chamber about the “campaign” Starmer alluded to, the PM distances himself from the BBC’s decision-making over recent days and says he’s looking forward to watching Lineker back on MOTD.

Sunak wants to brush over the issue, but he won’t have such luck.

Starmer: “Stand up to your snowflake MPs” 8/10

Next up, Starmer provides the talking point of the day.

“The sight of them howling with rage over a tweet… desperately trying to cancel football highlights show. That should have been laughable, instead, it led to a farcical weekend with the national broadcaster being accused of dancing to the government’s tune by its own employees,” Starmer says.

He then asks Sunak to “take some responsibility” and “stand up to his snowflake MPs waging war on free speech”, drawing laughter from his benches.

Strong stuff from Starmer.

Sunak: “Just the usual political opportunism from Labour” 3/10

Sunak again accuses Starmer of “political opportunism” and ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ on the matter - one of his default moves, along with bringing up Jeremy Corbyn and dismissing him as a “lefty lawyer”. Besides, ‘playing politics’ is actually Starmer’s job, unless he’d forgotten.

He does however point out that some Labour MPs also disagreed with Lineker’s tweet.

Starmer: “Tories put a Tory donor in charge” 8/10

Starmer deals with that argument by saying that Sunak doesn’t understand that you “can disagree with what somebody says but still defend their right to say it”.

He then questioned the appointment of BBC chairman Richard Sharp, saying: “The Tories chose to put a donor with no broadcasting experience in charge of the BBC.”

Starmer seems to be in his best form in a little while.

Sunak: “The BBC chairman was appointed before I became PM” 2/10

Sunak again distances himself from the decision to appoint Sharp, which is greeted by jeers in the Commons.

He adds: “There was a rigorous independent and long-established process… that process is being independently reviewed.”

It’s the least reassuring response of the day so far.

Starmer: “Has the PM had assurances over MOTD lobbying?” 6/10

The Labour leader raises the issue of Sharp once more, and Sunak bats it away by referencing the independent report into the selection process.

Starmer adds: “When people with links to the Tory party somehow find themselves in senior positions at the BBC, it’s important that their impartiality is seen to be beyond reproach. So has the PM received assurances that no one with links to the Tory party was lobbied by Tory MPs or involved in the decision that saw MOTD effectively cancelled?”

Sunak: ‘This is for the BBC to sort’ 6/10

“These are matters for the BBC to resolve. It’s right that the BBC as an important institution takes its obligations to impartiality seriously,” the PM responds.

He also adds what appears to be a dig at Starmer’s appointment of Sue Gray, saying he ‘cares about the impartiality of our civil service’.

Starmer: “Sunak is too weak to stand up to bullies’ 8/10

The Labour leader goes on to criticise Sunak’s “mealy-mouthed platitudes” and accuses the PM of ‘hiding behind the playground bullies’ who wanted Lineker out ‘for disagreeing with them’.

He goes on to hit out at the “cancel culture addicts on his benches” and “a PM too weak to do anything about them.

Sunak: “We’re not going to take any lectures on cancel culture from the party opposite” 3/10

Sunak goes on to speak about “the substance of the issue”, and adds that “the only thing he has done this week is vote against our bill… siding with people smugglers over the British people”.


Cancel culture and inhumane immigration bills - the main talking points this week were pretty grim.

The overall takeaway was that Sunak looked to be shirking responsibility again over the events at the BBC, reminding the house that the appointment of Sharp was before his time as leader rather than addressing the nature of the appointment in the first place.

After he was called a “lefty lawyer” last week by Sunak, it also seems that Starmer has been taking soundbite courses, with talk of “cancel culture addicts on his benches” and “snowflake MPs” bound to make the day’s headlines.

One thing we would say is that after the early days of PMQs between these two, which seems to represent two pretty competent politicians going up against each other in a relatively respectful manner (at least compared to the clashes between Starmer and Boris Johnson) it looks like things are gradually getting more personal between them.

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