Rishi Sunak slams Keir Starmer over strikes during PMQs

Rishi Sunak slams Keir Starmer for putting ‘extremist protesters’ and union paymasters ahead of schoolchildren in bruising PMQs clashes… as Labour leader dodges condemning strikes

Rishi Sunak slammed Keir Starmer for putting ‘extremist protesters’ and Labour’s union paymasters ahead of schoolchildren during bruising PMQs clashes today.

The premier swiped at Sir Keir for opposing the government’s ‘minimum service’ law on strikes, as well trying to water down a crackdown on disruptive protests.  

As the Labour leader seemingly did his best to avoid the topic of the wave of strikes crippling the country, Mr Sunak said: ‘What do the unions and Just Stop Oil have in common? They bankroll him and his party. So while he sides with extremist protesters and union bosses, we stand up for hard-working Britons and schoolchildren.’ 

Sir Keir insisted it was ‘pathetic’ for the PM to blame Labour for the industrial action – and focused his fire on sleaze allegations including the Nadhim Zahawi tax settlement row. 

Rishi Sunak (right) slammed Keir Starmer (left) for putting ‘extremist protesters’ and Labour’s union paymasters ahead of schoolchildren during bruising PMQs clashes today

Striking workers and their supporters march in Newcastle today

‘After 13 years in power, trying to blame the Labour Party for his failure to sort out the strikes is rank pathetic,’ he said. 

‘The Tory Party’s addiction to sleaze and scandal has done huge damage to this country and the cost to the public keeps adding up.’

The biggest strike in a decade is under way, with up to half a million workers walking out in increasingly bitter disputes over pay, jobs and conditions.

Members of seven trade unions are taking industrial action, affecting schools, universities, trains and buses.

Thousands of schools closed for the day because of action by the National Education Union (NEU), although many parents only found out this morning if their children would have to stay at home.

Civil servants, train and bus drivers and university staff also stopped work on the biggest single day of strikes in a decade.

Picket lines were mounted outside railway stations, schools, government departments and universities across the country, with unions saying they are receiving strong support from the public.

More than 100,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union are on strike, including Border Agency staff at ports and airports.

Civil servants join a Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) picket line outside Department for Education in London today 

The union announced on Tuesday night that its Border Force members in France will strike during the February half-term.

The TUC is holding a series of protests against the Government’s controversial plans for a new law on minimum levels of service during strikes.

A petition against the law, signed by more than 200,000 members of the public, will be handed in to 10 Downing Street.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said he hopes the protests and strikes will send a strong message to the Government about the anger felt by growing numbers of workers.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said she expects the ‘majority’ of schools to remain open in England and Wales despite the teacher strikes, but added that ‘some will have restrictions’ for different cohorts.

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