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by Kirsteen Paterson
26 October 2022
Rishi Sunak pressed on 'denying Scotland's democracy' in first PMQs

Rishi Sunak pressed on 'denying Scotland's democracy' in first PMQs

Rishi Sunak was asked how long "he can deny Scotland's democracy" in his first PMQs behind the dispatch box.

The new prime minister was also urged to sack restored home secretary Suella Braverman and pressed on non-dom status, levelling-up funding, and Universal Credit.

The former Chancellor today appeared as PM for the first time since winning the latest Conservative party leadership race.

He emerged as the only candidate to succeed Liz Truss in a fast-tracked contest triggered when Truss quit after just 45 days in office. 

During the session, SNP MP Alyn Smith said his party believes the best future for Scotland is "independence in Europe" and cited opinion polling that found "72 per cent of the people of Scotland wand back into the European Union", saying: "If the prime minister is to maintain any credibility in the eyes of the people of Scotland, how long does he think he can deny Scotland's democracy?"

Sunak urged Smith "to respect the result of the referendum" and said he is "committed to working constructively in partnership with the Scottish Government to deliver for the people of Scotland".

Braverman's reappointment to the post of Home Secretary came just a week after she lost her position for using a personal email address to send sensitive government information in a breach of the ministerial code.

Her reappointment to the role by Sunak sparked criticism and today both Labour's Keir Starmer and Ian Blackford of the SNP pressed him on Braverman's suitability to run the key department, responsible for crime, national security and immigration.

Starmer accused Sunak of having done a "grubby deal" that traded national security for support for his leadership. Blackford, who urged Sunak to raise benefits in line with inflation, called on him to "admit his mistake" and sack Braverman.

Hitting back, Sunak said violent crime was rising in Scotland and accused Labour of "backing the lunatic protesting fringe".

Starmer referred to a clip of Sunak telling Conservative members how he, as Chancellor, changed rules to stop "all the funding" going to "deprived urban areas". Starmer said: "He's not on the side of working people. That's why the only time he ran a competitive election he got trounced by the former prime minister, who herself got beat by a lettuce.

"Why not let the working people have their say and call a general election?"

On taxation, Starmer said: "The government currently allows very rich people to live here, but register abroad for tax purposes. I don't need to explain to the prime minister how non-dom status works. He already knows all about that. It costs the Treasury £3.2bn every year. Why doesn't he put his mouth where his money where his mouth is and get rid of it?"

Sunak said "difficult decisions to restore economic stability and confidence" would be taken within the next few weeks. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will deliver a fiscal statement on 17 November.

Sunak said: "As we did during Covid, we will always protect the most vulnerable."

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