By Democrat editor Bill Heaney

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s clash with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer made it a colourful question time in the House of Commons today.

The people’s party’s knight in shining armour was so angry that he almost fell off his charger as he put the lance into the Tories, once again over Boris Johnston and Partygate.

He excoriated Mr Sunak for trying to blame the Labour party for the Prime Minister’s failure to sort out the strikes, which saw thousands marching in protest through Westminster, and told MPs that this was “rank pathetic”.

And he added: “The Tory party’s addiction to sleaze and scandal has done huge damage to this country, and the cost to the public keeps adding up.

“We have a justice system letting murderers walk the streets, heart attack victims waiting hours for an ambulance, and an economy that is shrinking quicker than the his leadership.

“Even I could not quite believe it when I saw that his Government are expecting taxpayers to pay the legal fees for Boris Johnson to defend himself over his lockdown rule breaking—a quarter of a million pounds!

“Surely even this Prime Minister can put his foot down, stand up to his old boss and tell him: he made the mess, he can pick up the bill.”

The Prime Minister was unfazed however. He said Sir Keir was incapable “of standing up to his union bosses, he cannot stand up for Britain’s schoolchildren today and he cannot stand up for the women in his party.

“We [the Conservatives] are getting on: we are halving inflation, we are growing the economy, we are reducing debt, we are cutting waiting lists and we are stopping the boats [asylum seeks crossing the channel].

“While he cannot even figure out what he believes in, we will keep delivering for Britain.”

However, even his fellow Tories wouldn’t swallow Mr Sunak’s “all’s well here” line.

Mrs Heather Wheeler complained: “Integrated care boards must prioritise more access to new GP services, especially in places … where new housing estates are being built at the fastest rate in England.”
The Prime Minister refused to be stuck in the political  mortar of house-building: “The Government are committed to increasing the number of doctors in general practice, and last year saw the highest ever number of doctors accepting a GP training place.
“The British Medical Association is consulting each year on the funding of GP services. You will know that the NHS has a statutory duty to ensure sufficient medical services, including general practice, in each local area.”
The SNP’s comparatively new House of Commons leader Stephen Flynn, pictured here,  stepped away from the gender debates that have brought so much opprobrium on the head of his Holyrood boss, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Instead he turned to the sinking ship that is Brexit, which is drifting towards the rocks of oblivion for the Conservatives.

He said: “We have just marked the three-year anniversary of Brexit.  Government Members will not be cheering in a moment, because we have learned three things: the UK’s trade deficit has grown, the economy is being hit to the tune of £100 billion each year and, of course, the UK is expected to have the worst-performing economy of all advanced nations. Does the Prime Minister still believe that the UK can afford not to be in the European Union?”

The Prime Minister answered that if Mr Flynn actually looked at it, he would find that since Brexit the UK has grown exactly the same as Germany.

“Not only that, but we are taking advantage of Brexit to deliver for people across the UK, whether that is in the fishing and farming communities of Scotland or through the two new freeports that we have just announced. The difference between his party and ours is that we respect referendums.”

Stephen Flynn refused to back off. He said: “Let us be clear: taken together, 2022 and 2023 are expected to be the worst years for living standards since the 1930s, and the economy is expected to perform worse than sanction-hit Russia’s.

“As the Brexit ship sinks with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition at the helm, can the Prime Minister blame those Scots who want to jump aboard the independence lifeboat?”

Mr Sunak told him: “The No. 1 factor that is impacting people’s living standards is inflation caused by high energy prices as a result of a war in Ukraine; it has nothing to do with Brexit.
“That is why the Government are taking significant action, supporting every family with £900 this winter.
“What I would say is that rather than obsessing about constitutional arrangements, he should focus on delivering for the people of Scotland. That is what we will do.”
It was inevitable that the UK Attorney General Victoria Prentis would be asked about the gender legislation which has caused so much angst – and anger – in Scotland over the past week.

Ms Prentis told the Commons: “By convention, information on whether the Law Officers have been asked to provide advice and the content of such advice are not disclosed outside Government. That convention enables candid legal advice to be given.”

The SNP were far from content with her answer. Stuart C. McDonald, pictured right,  asked: “Why was the prospect of a section 35 order not raised at any time before the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill was overwhelmingly passed by the Scottish Parliament?
“What alternatives did the Attorney General look at? When will she set out the changes to the Bill that she wants to see before the Government would revoke the section 35 order? Those are simple questions. If she cannot answer them, all we can conclude is that the Government have lost their last shred of respect for the Scottish Parliament.”
The Attorney General answered: “That would be absolutely the wrong conclusion to draw. The Attorney General’s convention is clear: the UK Government respect the Scottish Parliament’s ability to legislate within its competence on devolved areas.
“The Government are committed to working with the devolved Administrations and strengthening the Union of the UK.”

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