Rishi Sunak has accused Sir Keir Starmer of being “another leftie lawyer” trying to stop action against small boat crossings in their latest Prime Minister’s Questions clash.
Less than 24 hours after the government revealed its new Illegal Migration Bill, the prime minister insisted Labour fails to acknowledge there is a global migration problem and the new plans have been introduced “to ensure that this remains a compassionate and generous country”.
The bill ensures small boat crossings will be halted, Mr Sunak said, and insisted it will be done “fairly and legally” – despite accusations it will break international asylum laws.
When Sir Keir, the former chief prosecutor, accused the Tory government of causing the number of migrants arriving in small boats to increase, Mr Sunak replied: “He’s just another leftie lawyer standing in our way.”
The quip was a repetition of an email sent to Conservative supporters from Home Secretary Suella Braverman on Tuesday, which has also prompted a call for an official apology from the head of the civil servants union.
In the letter, it said the government had to bring in a law to stop small boat crossings after “an activist blob of left-wing lawyers, civil servants and the Labour Party blocked us”.
Sir Keir dismissed the accusation as “nonsense” as he accused the new bill of failing to tackle the issue of thousands of asylum seekers being housed in hotels – costing the taxpayer millions.
“Because of his mess, there are thousands of people who can’t claim asylum and can’t be processed,” the Labour leader said.
“After 13 years, small boat crossings, higher than ever claims unprocessed.
“The taxpayer paying for hotel rooms, criminals running all the way laughing to the bank, and an asylum system utterly broken on his watch.
“This is their fifth prime minister, the sixth immigration plan, the seventh home secretary.
“And after all this time, all they offer is the same old gimmicks and empty promises.”
Is the Illegal Migration Bill legal?
The Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn accused the new bill of failing to protect women who have been sex trafficked to the UK.
But Mr Sunak insisted the bill will mean the government can “target our resources and our compassion on the world’s most vulnerable people”.
Moving away from the Illegal Migration Bill, Mr Sunak said he has asked the Department for Education to “ensure that schools are not teaching inappropriate or contested content in RHSE” after being asked about sexualised child sex education.
He said the department will be bringing forward a review on relationships, sex and health education statutory guidance, with a consultation starting “as soon as possible”.
The PM was asked about the issue by Tory MP Miriam Cates who said: “Graphic lessons on oral sex, how to choke your partner safely and 72 genders.
“This is what passes for relationships and sex education in British schools.
“Across the country, children are being subjected to lessons that are age-inappropriate, extreme, sexualising and inaccurate, often using resources from unregulated organisations that are actively campaigning to undermine parents.
“This is not a victory for equality. It is a catastrophe for childhood.”