Starmer defends record saying he’s ‘convicted more people smugglers than Sunak’s had helicopter rides’

The heated exchange took place at Wednesday’s Prime Ministers Questions

Jabed Ahmed
Wednesday 20 March 2024 13:38 GMT
I've prosecuted more people smugglers than Sunak has had helicopter rides, says Starmer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has hit back at Rishi Sunak after the prime minister criticised his record as Director of Public Prosecutions.

The heated exchange took place during a discussion on the deportation of dangerous criminals during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

Sir Keir told the Commons: “The tragedy is we know the Prime Minister doesn’t even believe in the Rwanda gimmick.

“He tried to stop funding it but he’s now so diminished that his entire focus is stopping his MPs holding the Sword of Damocles above his head, perhaps even literally in the case of the Leader of the House.”

Sir Keir added: “How has he managed to spend £600 million of taxpayer money on a gimmick to deport 300 people?”

Mr Sunak responded: “It’s crystal clear, not only does the Labour Party not have a plan to fix this issue, but the truth is they don’t actually care about fixing this issue.”

“Thanks to our new laws 900 criminals have been arrested. Four hundred and fifty have been convicted serving over 370 years behind bars. If it was up to [Sir Keir] those criminals would still be out on our streets and the truth is if he wasn’t the Labour leader he’d still want to be their lawyer.”

Keir Starmer jousted over prosecutions with the prime minister (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA Wire)

The Labour leader hit back: “I’ve prosecuted more people smugglers than he’s had helicopter rides and that’s a lot.”

Mr Sunak has been under fire for accepting  a personal gift of nearly £16,000 for a helicopter ride last December by Tory donor Frank Hester.

Mr Hester is accused of saying in 2019 that Britain’s longest-serving black MP, Dianne Abbot, made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

Mr Hester has not denied making the remarks, but claimed they had “nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin”.

The Prime Minister’s controversial flagship Rwanda policy faces another parliamentary showdown as the Lords consider whether to delay the legislation until after Easter.

The House of Lords could dash efforts to get the legislation through Parliament by Easter if they make fresh changes to the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill on Wednesday.

MPs overturned 10 changes made by those on the red benches when the Bill was in the Commons on Monday, and Downing Street and ministers have urged the Lords to agree to the legislation in its current form.

Mr Sunak has previously set the target of deportation flights setting off for Kigali by the spring.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in