PMQs has settled into a rhythm since Rishi Sunak became prime minister. The turbulence of Keir Starmer’s bouts with Boris Johnson and Liz Truss has been replaced by tamer sparring with few sucker punches thrown – and almost none below the belt.

And so it was in today’s session as the two men trotted out a few well-worn attack lines, in what felt more like scripted wrestling than a professional boxing match. Starmer said “the blancmange prime minister wobbled” in the face of opposition from his own MPs who opposed housing targets. Sunak retorted that Starmer was once again engaging in “petty personality politics”.

Starmer asked Sunak how Baroness Mone ended up with £30m in her bank account. Sunak, to whoops of derision, said he was “absolutely shocked” to read about the allegations that the peer benefitted from a company she recommended for a Covid contract. Sunak added that it was right that Mone no longer attends the Lords. But as Starmer is a lawyer, he should know there is a process to follow.

Sunak’s strongest attack line was pointing out Starmer’s failure to condemn the rail strikes. With today’s announcement that paramedics might also strike for the first time in over 30 years in the run-up to Christmas, pressure is mounting on the Labour leader to stop sitting on the fence. Although it wouldn’t be a bad thing if some of Sunak’s own ministers were also to come out fighting against what is looking increasingly like a general strike ahead of Christmas.  

While Starmer was far from his most eviscerating in today’s PMQs, his job in the Commons looks like it’s getting easier each week.

But as pollster Matt Goodwin points out, in the 44 days since Sunak became PM, the average Conservative vote has increased from 23 per cent to 27 per cent, Labour’s average lead is down from 30 to 20 points, and Starmer’s lead as “best PM” is down from 29 points under Truss to 5 under Sunak.

He still has a very long way to go to make the Tories a political force to be reckoned with at the next election. But Sunak, remarkably and against the odds, is heading in the right direction. 

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