London politics latest: Keir Starmer says Tory party ‘crashed the economy’ with 12 weeks of Tory chaos

Rishi Sunak clashed with Keir Starmer in Prime Minister’s Questions and accused the Tory party of ‘12 years of failure followed by 12 weeks of chaos’.

The Labour leader told the Commons: “The failure of the last 12 years and the chaos of the last 12 weeks are compounded by the decisions he is taking now. He won’t follow Labour’s plan to scrap non-dom status. Instead, we have got an NHS staffing crisis.

“He won’t follow Labour’s plans to make oil and gas giants pay their fair share, instead he hammers working people.”

Rishi Sunak replied: “He talks about leadership, this summer I stood on my principles and told the country what they needed to hear even though it was difficult. When he ran for leader, he told his party what they wanted to hear.

“Even now, he says one thing and he does the other. He says he cares for working people, but he won’t stand up to the unions. He said he’d honour Brexit but he tried to have a second referendum, and now he tries to talk tough about immigration but he promised to defend free movement.”

PMQs came after top judges ruled Scotland needs the approval of Westminster to push ahead with next year’s planned second referendum on independence.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford told the Commons: “This morning the Supreme Court clarified a point of law, that the very point of democracy in this union is now at stake. And democracy will not be denied.

“Because whether Westminster likes it or not, last year the people of Scotland voted for a Scottish Parliament with a majority and the mandate to deliver an independence referendum.”

What happened this morning?

11:13 , Miriam Burrell

Good morning.

Ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon, top judges handed down their decision on Scotland’s planned second referendum next year.

Scotland will need the approval of Westminster to push ahead with a second referendum on independence, the ruling said.

Meanwhile ministers are preparing for talks with rail union chiefs this week after a series of “debilitating” Christmas train strikes were announced.

Questions over Rishi Sunak’s choice of Cabinet colleagues have not let up as Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab is set to be investigated over allegations of bullying behaviour.

PM delays housebuilding targets - report

11:22 , Miriam Burrell

Rishi Sunak faces a significant rebellion on Wednesday as Conservative MPs push for an end to mandatory housebuilding targets.

MPs were meant to vote on the flagship Levelling Up Bill on Monday - which included Government plans to build 300,00 homes a year - but the Prime Minister reportedly has pulled the vote.

More than 40 backbenchers have signed an amendment to Bill that would ban councils from taking housebuilding targets into account when deciding on planning applications.

Read more here.

Braverman blames Channel crossings for Manston overcrowding

11:30 , Miriam Burrell

Suella Braverman has said she won’t “point the finger of blame” at any home secretary for the overcrowding at Manston migrant centre, instead blaming people who cross the Channel in small boats.

The Home Secretary told the Commons Home Affairs Committee this morning: “I’m not going to point the finger of blame at any one person, it’s not as simple as that.”

Pressed further, she daid: “I tell you who’s at fault, it’s very clear who’s at fault, it’s the people who are breaking our rules, coming here illegally, exploiting vulnerable people and trying to reduce the generosity of the British people – that’s who’s at fault.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

SNP Westminster leader granted urgent question

11:36 , Miriam Burrell

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has been granted an urgent question in the Commons on the Supreme Court ruling on Scotland’s independence referendum.

It will take place following Prime Minsiter’s Questions at about 12.30pm.

The UK Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for another referendum on independence, without Westminster consent.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford (PA Wire)
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford (PA Wire)

Braverman: Rwanda is a ‘very inspiring’ country that is ‘safe and secure'

11:41 , Miriam Burrell

Rwanda is a “very inspiring” country with a record of supporting asylum seekers, Suella Braverman said as she insisted that the government will manage to send migrants there.

The Home Secretary told MPs that Rwanda – where ministers want to send migrants unlawfully crossing the Channel – was a “safe and secure country” that had been subject to a “rigorous” assessment by her officials.

She said it was also being used by the UN to accommodate migrants under an EU funded scheme and that she had found it an “inspiring country” when she visited in 2010.

Read more here.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman (PA)
Home Secretary Suella Braverman (PA)

Rishi Sunak heads to PMQs

11:51 , Miriam Burrell

The Prime Minister has left Downing Street and headed to the House of Commons ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions at 12pm.


Nicola Sturgeon: ‘Independence will be worth it'

11:58 , Miriam Burrell

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has given her reaction to the UK Supreme Court ruling on Scotland’s planned second independence referendum.

Top judges ruled that the referendum cannot go ahead without Westminster consent.

She told reporters on Wednesday: “There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that independence will be worth it”.

“The very deomcracy of our nation depends on independence.”

Nicola Sturgeon (PA Wire)
Nicola Sturgeon (PA Wire)

PMQs begins

12:01 , Miriam Burrell

Prime Minister’s Questions at the House of Commons has begun.

Keir Starmer: ‘Shame on Fifa'

12:04 , Miriam Burrell

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the World Cup doesn’t belong to Fifa or the host nation.

He said it’s “totally unaceptable” that gay football fans cannot acknowledge who they love in Qatar. “Shame on Fifa,” he said.

He asked the PM: “Britain faces the lowest growth of any OECD nation ver the next two years, why?”

In response, Mr Sunak said Labour should get in touch with union leaders and call off the rail strikes if it was serious about the economy.

PM: ‘I’ve strengthened the economy in 4 weeks'

12:08 , Miriam Burrell

Rishi Sunak said: “In four weeks I’ve strengthened the economy, we’ve put more money into the NHS and schools and delivered a deal to tackle illegal migration.”

Sir Keir Starmer responded by saying there’s only one party that has crashed the economy, “and they’re sitting there”, as he pointed to Tory MPs in the House of Commons.

Sunak: Labour has ‘no plan’ for NHS

12:11 , Miriam Burrell

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the Government has introduced a record increase in the national living wage, protected the penisonerss triple lock and made record increases in funding for the NHS.

“That shows our committment to prioritise the NHS,” he said.

He said Labour had “no plan” for the NHS.

Sir Keir Starmer said he won’t follow Labour’s plan to scrap non-dom status.

PM asked about support for Ukraine

12:14 , Miriam Burrell

MP Ruth Edwards said 10 million people in Ukraine are without power due to Russia’s strikes.

She asked what support England will be providing to Ukrainian allies.

Rishi Sunak said he discussed the issue with President Zelensky. England will be providing millions of pounds in support for power facility repairs, he said.

Ian Blackford: ‘UK is dead and buried'

12:17 , Miriam Burrell

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the prime minister has “no right to deny democracy to the people of Scotland”.

He said if the Prime Minister will block the independence referendum, would he “at least be honest” about the fact that the United Kingdom is “now dead and buried”.

Rishi Sunak said he will deliver for the people of Scotland, including extra funding to public services.

PM asked about Just Stop Oil protesters

12:19 , Miriam Burrell

MP Gareth Johnson asked if the government would consider making Just Stop Oil a prescribed organisation so “theycan be treated as the criminal organisation they actually are”.

The Prime Minister said the Public Order Bill will give police the powers they need, and he “looks forward” to that being supported by the House of Commons.

PM to appoint an ethics adviser

12:24 , Miriam Burrell

recurit a successorr for ethics adviser

MP John Penrose asked the Prime Minister if he will commit to introducing additional measures to the ethics plan, which includes lobbying and corruption, to show he will “walk the talk”.

Rishi Sunak said he has committed to appointing an ethics advisor and will review the MP’s recommendations in “proper time”.

UK still ‘collaborative and constructive union'

12:28 , Miriam Burrell

SNP MP Dr Philippa Whitford asked: “If the Prime Minister claims the UK is still a voluntary union, can he explain the democratic route for Scottish people?”

Rishi Sunak said UK is a “collaborative and constructive union”.

Sunak: ‘Every life lost in the Channel is a tragedy’

12:31 , Miriam Burrell

MP Olivia Blake said families of migrants who died while crossing the English Channel a year ago are still waiting for answers from the Marine Accident Investigation.

“Will he commit to a full public inquiry,” she asked Rishi Sunk, or admit the deaths wouldn’t have happened if there were “safe and legal routes into the UK”.

The Prime Minister said: “Every life that has been lost in the Channel is a tragedy but that is why it’s vital to break the cyle of gangs that are recruiting and exploiting [migrants].”

Scottish government should ‘set aside’ constitutional differences

12:49 , Miriam Burrell

Secretary of State for Scotland MP Alister Jack said the government welcomes the UK Supreme Court’s ruling.

“People want to see the Scottish Parliament... focus on issues that matter to them, not on constitutional division,” he said in response to SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford’s urgent question in the House of Commons.

People across Scotland rightly want and expect both government’s working together on vital issues like tackling the cost of living, he said.

The UK government is providing a record £41 billion per year, over the next three years for Scotland, he pointed out.

Mr Jack called on the Scottish government to “set aside” constitutional issues.

Labour asks PM about OECD report

12:59 , Miriam Burrell

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked the Prime Minister: “Why is Britain set to be the first country into recession and the last country out?”

Rishi Sunak said he was pleased Sir Keir brought up the OECD report “because it contained actually three very important points”, before adding: “Firstly, it made the point that actually in the years following the pandemic, we are projected to have almost the highest growth amongst our peer countries and it also made the point, it was crystal clear, that the challenges we face are completely international in nature.

“Thirdly, it supported our fiscal plan because it’s credible and ensures sustainability.”

MPs respond to PMQs

13:04 , Miriam Burrell

Rail strikes: Mick Lynch to meet Transport Secretary

13:08 , Miriam Burrell

Talks over the rail workers’ dispute will be held on Thursday ahead of a fresh round of strikes next month.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will meet Transport Secretary Mark Harper after accusing the Government of blocking negotiations in a long-running row over pay, jobs and conditions.

The RMT has announced a series of 48-hour strikes in December and January by its members at Network Rail and 14 train companies – and an overtime ban over Christmas and the New Year, which threatens travel chaos over the festive period.

PMQs: A wrap

13:12 , Miriam Burrell

The Prime Minister was accused of protecting wealthy non-doms while hammering working people as he faced questions in the Commons.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called on Rishi Sunak to scrap the non-dom tax status for wealthy internationals, as he accused the Government of “clobbering” working people.

“The failure of the last 12 years and the chaos of the last 12 weeks are compounded by the decisions he is taking now. He won’t follow Labour’s plan to scrap non-dom status. Instead we have got an NHS staffing crisis,” he said.

“He won’t follow Labour’s plans to make oil and gas giants pay their fair share, instead he hammers working people.”

Read the whole exchange here.


Watch: Ian Blackford says UK ‘dead and buried'

13:15 , Miriam Burrell

Serco houses 1,500 asylum seekers in hotels a month - lawyer

13:29 , Miriam Burrell

A company contracted by the Home Office to find “initial accommodation” for asylum seekers is working with more than 100 hotels around the country, a High Court judge has been told.

Serco is accommodating an average of more than 1,500 asylum seekers a month in initial accommodation, a lawyer representing the company told Mr Justice Holgate on Wednesday.

The judge is considering an application by a council which wants to stop a hotel in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, from being used as “hostel” accommodation for asylum seekers.

He considered evidence at a High Court hearing in London and is due to give a ruling on Thursday.

Live coverage ends

13:43 , Miriam Burrell

That’s all for our coverage of Prime Minister’s Questions today.

Please check in again next week.