Sir Keir Starmer took a crack at Rishi Sunak for having been to Winchester College, which has “a rowing club, a rifle club, an extensive art collection” and charges fees of over £45,000 a year.
Sunak retorted that this was an attack on aspiration: “He’s attacking people like my parents.” He could also have observed that an astonishing number of gifted Labour figures went to Winchester, in days when the Opposition front bench was more brilliant than it is now.
If Sunak were a batsman, one would say he looks unruffled at the crease. He has decided how to defend his wicket and takes no risks by chasing balls outside the off stump.
One of his defensive tactics is to declare at frequent intervals that the Conservatives believe in controlling the nation’s borders. This might seem dicey, when one considers how many migrants are crossing the Channel in small boats, but he has presumably calculated that it is still a useful dividing line to draw between himself and the allegedly more indulgent Sir Keir.
Two Conservatives, Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) and Paul Bristow (Peterborough), declared that the Channel boats are “a national emergency”. The PM’s backbenchers are not happy about this.
Sunak insisted the Government will get on top of the situation. Perhaps he intends to bring forward measures so draconian the Labour Party will denounce them, whereupon the PM will have his dividing line.
Munira Wilson (Lib Dem, Twickenham) remarked that the Government would have sympathy with last night’s Welsh defence, for “they know what it feels like to have Marcus Rashford run rings round them”.
She wanted more done about child hunger. Sunak blocked this delivery with his usual aplomb.
Ian Blackford, for the Scots Nats, accused “the Leader of the Labour Party” of “desperately trying to out-Brexit the Prime Minister”.
Could it be that Labour is doing better in Scotland and the Nats are starting to feel worried?