The House of Commons erupted during Prime Minister’s Questions today after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ridiculed Sir Keir Starmer for having “no plan” on immigration to the UK. When Sir Keir asked Mr Sunak about the “broken” asylum system, the Prime Minister responded: “You can’t attack a plan if you don’t have a plan”.
PMQs got off to a rowdy start, with MPs jeering and shouting after Sir Keir Starmer opening question tackled the issue of immigration.
He asked Mr Sunak: “His Home Secretary says the asylum system is broken. Who broke it?”
In response, the Prime Minister heralded the Conservative Party’s decision to take the UK out of the EU.
He said: “We on this side of the House gave the people a referendum on Brexit. We delivered Brexit. We ended the free movement of people, Mr Speaker.
“That is our record on migration policy. It’s not something the honourable gentleman supported, he opposed it at every turn and it’s not what the British people want.”
But Mr Starmer hit back, saying: “No one wants open borders on this side of the House, but they have lost control on their side of the House”.
Mr Sunak drew attention to the Labour party’s record on migration, pointing out that Sir Keir “voted against the Nationality and Borders Bill, pledged to scrap the Rwanda partnership and opposed the ending of free movement of people”.
He continued: “Border control is a serious and complex issue. But not only does the party opposite not have a plan but they have opposed every single measure we have proposed to solve this problem. You can’t attack a plan if you don’t have a plan.”
Criticising the Government’s Rwanda migration scheme, Sir Keir pointed out: “It cost the taxpayer £140million and rising. The number of people deported to Rwanda is zero. since then 30,000 have crossed the channel in small boats. It’s not working.”
In the days leading up to PMQs, the Home Secretary came under fire for the situation at Manston, with the site being described as “inhumane” by Tory MP Roger Gale.
Earlier this week, Ms Braverman was accused of ignoring legal advice, with a Government source telling the Times: “Three weeks ago she was told directly by Home Office officials of the illegality of the site.
“It is an unofficial detention centre.
“She knew exactly what she was doing and she still went ahead with it. She was also told at the same time that this could lead to a public inquiry.”
Suella Braverman also admitted that the asylum system is “broken”, adding: “Ilegal immigration is out of control.”
But Mr Gale blamed Ms Braverman directly for the issues, saying: “That facility operated magnificently and very efficiently indeed until five weeks ago when I’m afraid the Home Secretary took the policy decision not to commission further accommodation and it is that that has led to the crisis at Manston.
Mr Sunak also used PMQs to remind MPs of Sir Keir’s previous support for Jeremy Corbyn, quoting the Labour leader telling the BBC in 2019 that “Jeremy Corbyn would make a great Prime Minister”.
Speaking about Mr Corbyn’s time as Labour leader, the Prime Minister said: “Let’s remember Mr Speaker, that national security agenda – abolishing our armed forces, scrapping the nuclear deterrent, withdrawing from NATO, voting against every single anti-terror law we tried, befriending Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Playing into mounting fears about Russia and China, Mr Sunak added: “It’s a Conservative Government that will keep this country safe”.