Inevitably, Liz Truss’s book was going to feature in Prime Minister’s Questions – and what a gift it was, or should have been, for Labour.

Starmer opened the session by bringing up the unavoidable elephant in the room, 10 Years To Save the West. Starmer was met with chuckles as he bragged that he was “privileged to be the proud owner” of one of the “rare unsigned copies”. Perhaps, he mused, one of the only unsigned copies. The Labour leader had a pop at Truss’s disastrous “kamikaze” budget, which, for her was “the happiest moment of her premiership”. Starmer asked if there is “anyone with a mortgage who agrees”?

Sunak remained unphased, a coy smile and a swift retort ready as he advised Mr Starmer to “spend a bit less time reading that book and a bit more time reading the deputy leader’s tax advice”, in reference to Angela Rayner’s potentially unpaid capital gains tax on the sale of her council house. 

What Starmer clearly hoped would be a fruitful line of attack, given Truss’s mad book, was anything but. He tried to lump Sunak in with Truss, linking him with her overwhelming unpopularity. But his attempts fell by the wayside as Sunak stood his ground: “Everyone knows that two years ago I wasn’t afraid to warn about what her economic policies would lead to, even if it wasn’t what people wanted to hear at the time.” The PM has a leg to stand on: his and Truss’s divergent views on the right time to impose tax cuts was perhaps the defining policy that set the two apart during their initial Tory leadership battle. 

Debate turned to the Tory pledge to abolish National Insurance. Starmer demanded to know “where the money is coming from” for the “completely unfunded £46 billion promise”. Sunak dodged the question, leaving Sir Keir looking like a frustrated parent, trying to weasel the truth from an unruly child. He warned Sunak that he would give him “one more chance” to fess up. Where is the money coming from? Is it cuts to state pension, cuts to the NHS, or income tax rises? Unsurprisingly, no answer came from the prime minister.

“This is genuinely extraordinary, two chances,” Starmer continued. He turned to Speaker Lindsay Hoyle as if wanting him to force Sunak to answer: “Mr Speaker! TWO chances!” He took one last hit at it: “I’ll be really generous now and give him one last chance.” Crickets from the PM. What began as an attempt to make Sunak and the Tories look profligate instead made Starmer look weak as he begged for an answer. Sunak told Starmer that he really must “keep up,” with the lengthy list of Conservative financial successes. The irony was lost on no one, certainly not those who had Truss on their mind. 

As the Sunak-Starmer scrap was over, it was time to hear from the Workers Party of Britain MP for Rochdale and the newest member of parliament, George Galloway. Loud on the campaign trail but almost silent since his victory in the recent by-election, Galloway asked Sunak about his phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Claiming that “well over 100 thousand people” have been killed or maimed, “72 per cent of which are women and children” since Israel’s retaliation for Hamas’s 7 October attack, he asked what Sunak will do if Netanyahu ignores Britain’s calls for restraint. The Prime Minister assured Galloway that he told Netanyahu that significant escalation is “not in anyone’s interest” and “it’s a time for calm heads to prevail”. He also reiterated concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza: “I welcome the statements and commitments that the Israeli government have made, about significantly increasing aid into Gaza, and now we need to see those commitments delivered.”

Sunak, naturally, avoided comment on what his government would do if Israel ignored the international community’s calls for restraint. But, hey, we’re used to Rishi dodging questions. 

While Sunak denied Starmer the easy victory Truss handed the Labour leader on a plate, the Prime Minister is still swimming against the tide of public opinion, and it’s a powerful force.  

Write to us with your comments to be considered for publication at