Well that’s a first. Today’s PMQs saw the leader of the opposition take a rare opportunity to actually congratulate the Prime Minister on meeting one of his targets.
That target being the loss of 1000 councillors. Sunak said he would lose this many seats in the local elections and, sure enough, he managed to: ”Finally a Tory promise they haven’t broken”, jibed Starmer.
But accusations of broken promises cut both ways this week.
While the first PMQs since the Tory’s bruising local election results was a perfect chance for Starmer to gleefully declare that the entire country has “rejected [Sunak’s] government,” the Prime Minister managed to land a few blows of his own by drawing attention to Sir Keir’s plentiful U-turns.
“He’s not just softie, he’s a flakey too,” said Sunak, who decided to offer Starmer some advice from his predecessor Tony Blair: “He can be as cocky as he likes about local election results, but come a general election, policy counts.”
The problem, claimed the PM, is that Starmer doesn’t have any policies – or at least none that he sticks to.
Oddly enough, Sunak appeared to be fighting the Labour left’s corner: it’s a bit rich to hear about broken mandates from a man who has abandoned every mandate he was elected on.
This line of attack allowed him to kill two birds with one stone, painting both Labour and the Lib Dems as unprincipled. It’s not hard to see why Davey and Starmer are cosying up to one another, joked Sunak: “Political opportunism and a broken promise on tuition fees – it must be like looking in the mirror.”
The PM’s suggestion of a good rapport between the two leaders was a reference to speculation that Davey and Starmer might be willing to form a post-election coalition with one another.
While the Labour leader hasn’t confirmed that he would form a pact with the Lib Dems, he also refused to rule out the possibility in a BBC interview yesterday, swerving the question seven times. Starmer insisted he wouldn’t answer hypotheticals – though, in a further sign that he might be flirting with the idea of teaming up with Davey, this marked a contrast from his outright rejection of a hypothetical SNP coalition.
If a Labour-Lib Dem coalition did ever materialise, it would only serve to reinforce Sunak’s point. Less than a year ago Starmer told Bloomberg’s Emily Ashton that he wouldn’t agree to any kind of pact with anyone. Stay tuned for the next U-turn.
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