The Speaker
Wednesday, 29 November 2023 – 12:15

PMQs: Clash of the Deputies

With the Prime Minister in the Middle East attempting to increase the UK oil supply, and Keir Starmer meeting British troops in Europe, the parties’ Deputy Leaders stepped up to conduct PMQs.

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner opened by accusing the Prime Minister of ignoring the advice of the British Intelligence service when he made his friend, Evgeny Lebedev, a peer of the House of Lords.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab insisted that peerages are only granted on the basis of their contribution to the nation, including “those of Russian origin who contribute brilliantly to our nation. … many of whom are critics of the Putin regime.”

Rayner responded:

“It is the central duty of any government is to keep its people safe.”

“There are now widespread reports that the Prime Minister did not accept warnings from our own intelligence services, granting the Russian oligarch, the son and business partner of a KGB spy a seat here in this parliament.”

“It shouldn’t matter if such a warning was about a close personal friend of the PM.
It shouldn’t matter if he gave the PM thousands of pounds worth of gifts.
It shouldn’t matter how much champagne and caviar he served. … there’s no ifs or buts when it comes to the safety of the british people”

She also criticised the PM’s attempt to negotiate a larger oil supply with Saudi Arabia:

“This week the PM has gone cap in hand from one dictator to another. the government have had 12 years to end their reliance on foreign oil.”

“Their failure has left us all vulnerable, reliant on another murderous dictator to keep the lights on and pumps open.”

“Is their only plan to keep on begging?”

“There is a war in Europe. … Democracy is at risk. … These uncertain times require leadership with integrity. … instead we have this sorry excuse of a government sat before us.”

Raab then appeared to forget what year it is, several times bringing up Jeremy Corbyn as a counter until the Speaker of the House told him to stop giving “a history lesson”.

He went on to point out what the government has done to hold Russia to account, talking of the visa numbers the UK is offering to Ukrainian refugees and the damage the sanctions have done to the Russian economy:

“The impact of the sanctions enacted by this government have led to the Ruble plummeting, the Russian stock-market at record lows, a doubling of the interest rates.”

“We’ve also shown the big-hearted spirit of this government and this nation, with the 5500 visas granted to Ukrainians to come here, and also the humanitarian route which now has 100,000 sponsors applying to come to take Ukrainian families into their homes.”

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