Having secured a new Brexit deal this week, the Prime Minister faced a broader range of questions, and as such was able to answer without needing to go into specifics.
Sir Keir Starmer tried to pin Mr Sunak down on the cost of living, Covid and housing, with only the latter seeming to stick.
SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn used his questions to mock Mr Sunak’s comments seemingly praising the single market, and also accused Labour of being more pro-Brexit than the Prime Minister.
Having galvanised his party with the Brexit arrangement, Mr Sunak found his MPs more vocal than recent sessions. It saw him go on the offensive, accusing Labour of “unfunded spending commitments”, mocking Sir Keir over being from North London (again), and pointing out they’d already delivered a windfall tax when asked to go further.
Asked about living standards, he said: “It’s clear to everyone that the biggest impact on households living standards is the energy prices that we’re suffering at the moment as a result of an illegal war in Ukraine. And I just remind the honourable gentleman what we are doing to ease people through that.
“But if he’s concerned about the cost of living, what he should do is stop making inflationary, unfunded spending commitments and back our plan to halve inflation.”
Sir Keir Starmer
The Labour leader went for a broader approach this week and, while managing a few stronger lines, struggled to really nail the Prime Minister. He asked about house building targets following his own party’s new promise to build, and also accused Mr Sunak of having a “botched windfall tax”.
Sir Keir accused Mr Sunak of being in “total denial” about the “damage and decline that he is presiding over”.
The Labour leader told the Commons: “The dictionary definition for unfunded commitments is last year’s kamikaze budget. The only country in the G7 still poorer than it was before the pandemic, and he stands there pretending it’s all fine.”
After Mr Sunak defended his windfall tax, the Labour leader also smartly pointed out Shell didn’t pay a penny in windfall tax last year.
The SNP Westminster leader used his question to mock a possible gaffe by the Prime Minister, who on Tuesday claimed Northern Ireland was in the “unbelievably special position” of having access to EU single market. Mr Flynn said: “Yesterday the Prime Minister said that EU single market access was special, exciting and attractive. If that’s the case, why is he denying it to the rest of us?”
Mr Sunak responded: “It’s disappointing the honourable gentleman is seeking to play politics with the situation in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland, as he well knows, has a unique place in the United Kingdom and what we are trying to do is restore the balance inherent in the Belfast Good Friday agreement, and he would do well to acknowledge that.”
The Aberdeen South MP also earned the biggest laugh of the session, with a question managing to hit both the Tories and Labour in one. He asked: “Does it hurt the PM to know that the Labour leader believes in Brexit more than he does?”