The Prime Minister emerged unscathed as Sir Keir Starmer’s shoddy offensive fell short of expectations in today’s PMQs. The session, which in the wake of Sunak’s speech on Monday many thought would be dominated by defence, ventured into lengthy back-and-forths on prisoner releases. 

Starmer began with a jest on Sunak’s “seventh relaunch in eighteen months” and mocked the PM for his party’s noble plan to ban “colourful lanyards”, a quip relating to a proposed crackdown on the politicisation of the civil service

Starmer went on to question whether “Mr Security” could deliver while compromising British safety with the early prisoner release plan. After briefly defending the plan the government has been forced into because of a lack of prison space, Sunak redirected the debate back to defence, claiming that “you can’t trust Labour with our country’s security”. 

Starmer reiterated his lanyard quip, which lost steam with each use (he brought it up three times), and conveyed Labour’s support for a 2.5 per cent defence rise while steering back towards prison releases. 

At this moment, Sunak gained the upper hand, declaring that only the Tories had a real plan of action and that the Labour leader had conceded his agreement with the PM on defence. Starmer’s response unravelled after he stumbled on the word “tech-bro” in an attempt to critique the Tory Whatsapp leak.

The stutter-provoked jeers provided enough momentum for Sunak to triumphantly declare: “He just showed spectacularly why he is not fit to be leader”.

Starmer elaborated on his prisoner gripe, pressing the PM on whether any of the inmates due for early release are “high risk”. The PM doubled down on his safety credibility by listing a number of actions the Tories have pursued in the name of law and order. Sunak then turned the onus on Labour, blaming the opposition for their 2007 release of 16,000 violent offenders. 

Following Starmer’s inquisition, Sunak took the remainder of the PMQ in stride as he defended Tory progress on NHS waitlist reductions, parole reform, food security, and rape victim support measures.

As is now routine in British society, whether in the Commons or on campus, a shouting match over Gaza erupted. Labour MP Rosena Allin-Khan labelled Sunak a “bystander to horror” and demanded an end to support for Israel. In response, the PM stated he was “deeply concerned by the growing humanitarian crisis” and doing “all that we can” to support the people of Gaza.

Despite the recent changes to Keir Starmer’s body language where his smiles and tall stance are indicative of a man with a 30-point lead in the polls, he failed to dominate an embattled Sunak. The Prime Minister, who has suffered several relentless grillings lately over local election losses, party defections, and unfulfilled promises, has still got some fight left in him. 

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