Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
9 March 2022

What we learned from this week’s PMQs

Keir Starmer pressured Boris Johnson on the cost-of-living crisis as partisan politics returned.

By Freddie Hayward

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, had not addressed the House of Commons in a stirring and historic speech yesterday. Since the invasion of Ukraine, the tone in the Commons has been united in opposing Vladimir Putin’s aggression and broadly supportive of the British government’s response. 

No more. The House returned to boisterous and combative form during today’s PMQs. Boris Johnson once again called Keir Starmer “Captain Hindsight”. The Labour leader used his six questions to pressure the Prime Minister on the rising cost of living. Starmer accused the Tories of “protecting energy profits not working people”, while Johnson threw back that Labour had not built enough nuclear power plants when it was in power over a decade ago. Starmer has told his MPs to focus on the rising cost of living, which, with the impact of sanctions on Russia yet to be fully felt, will only continue.  

The question of the government’s muddled response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis was left to Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP at Westminster. Two million refugees have now fled Ukraine, more than over a million arriving in Poland. Yet the British government has only issued 760 visas so far. Disapproval has spread to Tory backbenchers. Julian Smith, a senior Tory MP, urged the Prime Minister to address the government’s “tone” on the refugee crisis and adopt a more “humane response”.

In a move suggesting a faltering confidence in Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, Johnson confirmed that Michael Gove, not Patel, would make an announcement on refugees in coming days. This is presumably the already announced sponsorship scheme that is yet to be set up.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t a topic for the main exchange between Starmer and Johnson. Starmer only addressed the crisis in Ukraine in his sixth question, by which point the partisan atmosphere of parliament had been restored.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
The cost-of-living crisis is hitting small businesses – Liz Truss must act
How industry is key for net zero
How to ensure net zero brings good growth and green jobs

Topics in this article: ,