Starmer says Sunak too weak to sack Zahawi

Starmer says we all know why Sunak did not want to ask a colleague about tax avoidance. Starmer says failure to sack Zahawi shows “how hopelessly weak he is”. Does he think this job is too big for him?

Sunak says, when he disagreed with a leader, he resigned. But Starmer served in Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet and did not resign. That is weak. Starmer has no principles at all, he says.

Key events

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Carolyn Harris (Lab) asks about support for leisure centres.

Sunak says he agrees exercise and leisure centres are important. The government supported them during the pandemic, he says.

That’s it. PMQs is over.

Virginia Crosbie (Con) asks about the closure of a chicken factory in her constituency.

Sunak says he is sorry to hear that. DWP has procedures in place to help in cases like this.

Martyn Day (SNP) asks about research saying more than half of voters think Brexit has added to the cost of living. Does the PM agree?

Sunak says the war in Ukraine has nothing to do with Brexit. The government is supporting families with the cost of living.

Sir Mike Penning (Con) asks about the protection of the green belt in his constituency.

Sunak says the government will always protect “our precious green spaces”.

Barry Sheerman (Lab) says his constituents think it is the PM’s role the keep the country safe. But the armed forces have never been this run down, he says. They could not put a division into active service.

Sunak says an extra £24bn has been invested in defence – a record uplift. He says the UK is one of the leading spenders on defence in Nato.

Andy Slaughter (Lab) asks what sanctions will be imposed on Iran after the execution of Alireza Akbari.

Sunak says he has spoken before about Iran. Iran must answer questions about the death and burial of Akbari. Some people connected with the case have been sanctioned, he says.

Clive Efford (Lab) says Sunak was chancellor when the Treasury gave permission for a Putin warlord to sue a British journalist.

Sunak says he is proud of the UK’s record in sanctioning Russians. He says more than 1,000 people have been sanctioned. He says they are looking at this case, and he will get back to Efford about it.

James Duddridge (Con) asks if the govenrment will continue to help people with the cost of living, not just this winter but next winter.

Sunak says, as the energy support scheme evolves, it will still be there next winter, helping families with around £500.

Tulip Siddiq (Lab) asks about the disappearance of 200 asylum-seeking children from hotels in the UK. Is the UK a safe haven for vulnerable children?

Sunak says the UK has provided refuge to hundreds of thousands of people over the past few years. But the reports about children are concerning. He says this is one reason why he wants to end the use of hotels for unaccompanied asylum seekers.

Sir Oliver Heald (Con) asks what extra money is being made available for urgent mental health care.

Sunak says people in mental health crisis deserve emergency care. He sums up the announcement he promoted with a visit on Monday.

Jason McCartney (Con) asks about the TransPennine Express, and suggests it should lose its contract.

Sunak says the TransPennine Express service is not acceptable. If ministers conclude the service cannot be turned round, the contract might not be renewed, he suggests.

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