Keir Starmer
Sunak said he was happy to talk about "important topics of substance" but Kyriakos Mitsotakis was trying to “grandstand” over the relics in the British Museum. UK PARLIAMENT via AFP / JESSICA TAYLOR

Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the Tory Party of being in "open revolt" during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) today, as the Labour leader hammered Rishi Sunak on immigration, diplomacy and the economy.

During a series of fiery exchanges between the two, Starmer pressed Sunak on rising migration figures, days after official estimates showed that net migration for 2023, up until June, stood at 672,000.

The UK prime minister defended his record and claimed the "toughest action ever taken to reduce legal migration" is "yet to be felt".

Sir Keir later told MPs: "There is only one party that has lost control of the borders and they are sitting right there. This is a Government not just in turmoil, in open revolt."

The Labour leader pointed to former home secretary Suella Braverman's claims that Sunak reneged on his agreement with her to introduce harsher immigration measures in exchange for her support in the 2022 Conservative leadership contest.

At the start of his premiership, Sunak had promised as one of his five pledges to "stop the boats" but his Rwanda Bill, which aimed to deal with illegal migration, was recently declared unlawful by The Supreme Court.

On Monday, the newly appointed Home Secretary James Cleverly, told the House of Commons that the UK government is determined to go ahead with the Rwanda policy, despite the plan being ruled unlawful by both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Starmer then went on to discuss the Greek prime minister's recent visit to the UK.

Mr Mitsokatis met with Sir Keir on Monday, before Downing Street cancelled his appointment with the prime minister at the last minute.

Starmer described the Greek PM as "a fellow Nato member, an economic ally, one of our most important partners in tackling illegal immigration".

He said that instead of using a meeting with him to "discuss those serious issues", the prime minister "tried to humiliate him and cancelled at the last minute".

"Why such small politics?" queried Starmer.

"Of course, we're always happy to discuss important topics of substance with our allies," responded Sunak, "like tackling illegal migration or indeed strengthening our security."

"But when it was clear that the purpose of a meeting was not to discuss substantive issues for the future, but rather to grandstand and relitigate issues of the past, it was inappropriate."

Sir Keir quipped in response that Sunak had the "reverse Midas touch", amid rising migration figures, NHS waiting lists and the tax burden, all of which the prime minister has sought to tackle.

The debate then turned again to migration, with Sunak claiming Starmer wanted closer cooperation with the EU, claiming the Labour leader backed "Brussels over Britain every single time".

Sir Keir accused the PM of suggesting that meeting the prime minister of Greece is "somehow supporting the EU instead of discussing serious issues".

"Instead of dealing with the facts, he is prosecuting his one-man war on reality," the opposition leader added.

At one point during the discussion in the Commons today, Home Secretary James Cleverly started to interrupt a question by the Labour leader.

Rather than ignore him, Sir Keir joked that he wasn't quite sure what Mr Cleverly had said - but he would "have to check the tapes".

Starmer was referring to an incident last week, in which Mr Cleverly was accused of calling Stockton a "s***hole" in the Commons.

He denied this, saying instead he called Alex Cunningham a "s*** MP", and later apologised for his "unparliamentary language".

Later in the session, The SNP's Westminster leader Stephen Flynn asked the PM if he regretted offering "no financial mechanism" for families this winter - Sunak said this was incorrect; pensioners would see an extra £300 on top of their winter fuel payments.

"The government has delivered on halving inflation," according to Sunak, as well as "the biggest tax cuts since the 1980s".

Growth forecasts downgraded sharply to 0.6 per cent this year and 0.7 per cent next year, from the 1.8 per cent and 2.5 per cent predicted in March.

Earlier this month, The Bank of England voted to hold interest rates for the second time in a row, at a base rate of 5.25 per cent.

Interest rates have been rising consistently since 2021, in an attempt to combat inflation, and are currently at their highest level for 15 years.

The Bank signalled that the rate would remain high for an "extended period of time", as they predict inflation will not return to the two per cent target until the end of 2025.

Elsewhere in British politics, the afternoon session of the COVID inquiry is now underway, with former health secretary Sajid Javid first up to continue his evidence.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab is also on the roster for today. He was due to start at 2 pm, but this has been pushed back.

So far, the inquiry has included statements from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, ex-special adviser Dominic Cummings, and current Prime Minister Sunak, who previously held the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2020 to 2022.

It was reported that the PM failed to share his WhatsApp messages from the time of the inquiry after he suggested that he did not have the messages because he had to change his mobile several times and failed to back them up.