Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer fight about spies as Black Mirror creator watches – POLITICO

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Prime minister’s questions: a shouty, jeery, very occasionally useful advert for British politics. Here’s what you need to know from today’s session in POLITICO’s weekly run-through.

What they sparred about: Spying and terrorism. Keir Starmer opted to push Rishi Sunak first on the case of escaped terror suspect Daniel Khalife, before moving on to the row about a parliamentary staffer arrested amid a Chinese influence probe.

Was there a theme? Absolutely. Starmer argued that apparent security failures in both cases show Sunak and his Conservatives “keep ignoring the warnings” about decline and risks in the public sector. He alluded to the crisis over dodgy concrete-addled crumbling schools on that theme too.

Other action figures are available: The Labour leader branded Sunak “inaction man” — not his worst gag (though it’s PMQs so it’s a low bar.)

Things can’t only get better: For his part, Sunak strained to point out that prison escapes happened more often under the last Labour government (*checks notes* more than 13 years ago). Pointing more convincingly at Starmer’s U-turn habit, the PM argued “the public can’t trust a word he says.”

Newsline alert: In response to questions from the SNP’s Stephen Flynn and Lib Dem Daisy Cooper, Sunak insisted the government remains committed to the pensions triple lock — which guarantees the state pension always rises — despite recent reports to the contrary.

Snore alert: 55 slow seconds drifted by as Tory backbencher Michael Fabricant moaned about road and footpath closures in his Lichfield constituency because of construction of the High Speed 2 rail line. The prime minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland said he understood Fabricant’s super-local frustration.

Totally nonscientific scores on the doors: Starmer’s questions successfully reflected the fact that a lot of things aren’t exactly going well in the U.K. at the minute. He took his chance with the open goal.

Sunak 5/10 … Starmer 7/10 … Labour optimism about election chances 9/10.

Spotted: Satirist Charlie Brooker watching proceedings alongside Labour MP (and sister-in-law) Rupa Huq. Gathering material for the next season of dystopian Netflix show Black Mirror, POLITICO hopes.

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