The Labour leader and Rishi Sunak clashed during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday and the Sir Keir Starmer branded the Conservative leader as a “Mt Nobody who doesn’t get Britain.
The pair had a fiery clash during PMQs over Sunak’s Rwanda asylum plan and Sir Keir accused him of no believing in his Rwanda “gimmick” amid reports that the Prime Minster had doubts over the policy before taking the top seat in Downing Street.
The Labour leader said that Sunak’s government is “blissfully uninterested” in what is happening across the UK.
Sunak hit back and accused Sir Keir off having “no plan” for the UK, he added, “Stick with us to deliver the long-term change that the country needs – don’t go back to square one with him.”
Sir Keir said in the House of Commons, “Back in 2022 when Boris Johnson claimed he would send asylum seekers to Rwanda, one ambitious Tory MP had reservations.
“He agreed with Labour that it wouldn’t work. It was a waste of money, it was the latest in a long line of gimmicks.
“Does the Prime Minister know what happened to that MP?”
Sunak responded, “What he refers to is a document that he hasn’t seen, I haven’t seen, and has been reported second-hand in a bunch of media newspapers.
“But what I can tell him is I am absolutely clear that you do need to stop the boats, and that is what this Government and that MP is going to deliver.”
The Labour leader claimed that Sunak has been “caught red-handed opposing the very thing that he has now made his flagship policy.”
Sir Keir added, “I notice he didn’t deny it. I am not surprised – £400 million of taxpayers’ money down the drain, no-one sent to Rwanda, small boats still coming.
“It is hardly a surprise he wanted to scrap the scheme when he was trying to sneak in as Tory leader.”
The Prime Minister told MPs in the Commons, “I have always been crystal clear: you do need to have an effective deterrence to finally solve this problem.
“In fact the National Crime Agency agree that you need, in their words, an effective removals and deterrence agreement. And that is why after becoming Prime Minister I negotiated a new deal with Albania, thanks to which we have seen a 93% drop in illegal arrivals from Albania.”
Sunak added, “He is the only one opposed to a proper deterrent, not because it doesn’t work, but because he doesn’t actually believe in controlling migration.”
Sir Keir said that under Labour’s plan they will “smash the gangs, process the claims and end hotel use.”
He added that Sunak, “Last year he started the year saying he was ‘Mr Steady’; then at his conference he was ‘Mr Change’; now he’s flipped back to ‘Mr More of the Same’, it doesn’t matter how many relaunches, flip-flops he does – he will always be ‘Mr Nobody’.”
Sunak batted back to Sir Keir saying, “He talked about hotels – well, the first 50 are being closed and there are more to come.”
The Prime Minister added, “If he does care about smashing the gangs, why doesn’t he own up to the fact that when it came to the Nationality and Borders Act he blocked, delayed and voted against, the powers in that Act which have allowed us to now arrest hundreds and hundreds of people connected with that illegal trade, who have been sentenced to hundreds of years in prison.
“He opposed that because he chooses the criminal gangs over the British people every time.”