Starmer and Sunak clashed over the state of the UK economy at PMQs.
Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle rapped Rishi Sunak after he failed to give short answers during a rowdy session of prime minister’s questions.
Sunak was responding to questions from Labour leader Keir Starmer over why the Britain faces the lowest growth of any OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] nation over the next two years when he was interrupted by Hoyle.
Starmer asked: “Britain faces the lowest growth of any OECD nation over the next two years. Why?”
Sunak replied: “This country has experienced, since 2010, the third-highest growth in the G7. This year, the fastest growth in the G7 and unemployment at a multi-decade low.
“We are getting on to deliver more growth, we are delivering free ports, we are investing in apprenticeships, we are protecting R&D.
“If the Labour party is serious about actually supporting growth, maybe they should get on the phone with their union paymasters and tell them to call off the strikes.”
He then accused Starmer of failing to read the OECD report in full, which he said made “crystal clear” that the UK’s economic challenges were “completely international in nature”.
He added: “But he’s not interested in substance, he’s an opportunist.”
Hoyle then interjected: “Prime minister, when I stand you’ve got to sit down — but can I just say to you, you came to me quite rightly and said to me, ‘We want to get through prime minister’s questions, I’m going to give short answers’.
“Please stick to what you said.”
— PoliticsHome (@politicshome) November 23, 2022
Elsewhere in the exchange, Starmer accused Sunak of being “weak” and challenged him over energy firms not paying “a penny” in windfall tax due to loopholes in the system.
The Labour leader told the Commons: “The failure of the last 12 years and the chaos of the last 12 weeks are compounded by the decisions he is taking now. He won’t follow Labour’s plan to scrap non-dom status. Instead, we have got an NHS staffing crisis.
“Too weak to take on his party, too weak to take on vested interests, 12 long years of Tory government, five prime ministers, seven chancellors. Why do they always clobber working people?”
Sunak replied: “He talks about leadership, this summer I stood on my principles and told the country what they needed to hear even though it was difficult. When he ran for leader, he told his party what they wanted to hear.
“Even now, he says one thing and he does the other. He says he cares for working people, but he won’t stand up to the unions. He said he’d honour Brexit but he tried to have a second referendum, and now he tries to talk tough about immigration but he promised to defend free movement.”