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Rishi Sunak branded ‘weak’ as he misses highest percentage of PMQs of any prime minister | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has missed the largest percentage of Prime Minister’s Questions of any inhabitant of Number 10, figures from the House of Commons Library and research by Sky News shows.

Since he came to power, the PM has already skipped 17% of the sessions, which see opposition leaders and backbench MPs scrutinising the activity of the leader and their government.

But that number will rise to 19% – almost one fifth – after he misses today’s session to attend a service for the NHS’s birthday, and next Wednesday’s questions for a NATO summit.

The prime ministers closest to missing that percentage were Tory leader Sir John Major and Labour’s Gordon Brown, who were absent for 12% of their sessions.

Politics live: Follow today’s Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions as Sunak skips another appearance

For two of the six PMQs Mr Sunak either missed or is set to miss, he was covered for by the then-deputy prime minister Dominic Raab before his resignation over bullying allegations.

The other four have been or will be filled by the new deputy PM Oliver Dowden, while Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner is set to ask questions at all six.

Number of PMQs missed by prime ministers by percentage
Number of PMQs missed by prime ministers by percentage

It is tradition that if the prime minister cannot attend, the leader of the opposition doesn’t ask the questions either, and hands the reins to his or her deputy as well.

Prime ministers are allowed to skip the weekly event if they have other pressing commitments.

But the Liberal Democrats claimed it was another sign of “weakness” from Mr Sunak.

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‘Liar, lettuce – what is Sunak?’

The party’s chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: “A year ago today, Sunak resigned from Boris Johnson’s government because he claimed standards like competence and integrity were worth fighting for.

“Now he’s too weak to vote to condemn Johnson’s partygate lies and too scared to even turn up to PMQs.”

She added: “Rishi Sunak has thrown in the towel while the country suffers from endless Conservative sleaze and scandal.

“Families facing soaring mortgages and rents or struggling to get a GP appointment deserve better than a Prime Minister who won’t even turn up for the day job.”

Mr Sunak’s “respect for parliament” was also brought into question by senior Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant during the PM’s appearance in front of the Liaison Committee on Tuesday.

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‘You haven’t read the report?’

In the terse exchange, Sir Chris also questioned the PM’s absence from the two standards votes on Owen Patterson – who was found to have broken lobbying rules – and Boris Johnson, who was found to have lied to parliament.

“For two rule-breaking moments you chose not to be in parliament but yesterday you opined on the rules of cricket,” Sir Chris said.

Mr Sunak said: “I’m very happy to talk about the rules of cricket, as you mentioned”, before Sir Chris replied: “But not about rule-breaking in parliament.”

The PM defended the two upcoming absences from the Commons, telling the Labour MP: “Your view is that I should not be attending the NHS celebration, or the King’s coronation celebration in Scotland or indeed the NATO summit?

“That’s a perfectly reasonable point of view, but it’s worth pointing out the leader of the opposition [Sir Keir Starmer] also will be speaking at the NHS church service on Wednesday.”

Read more:
PM was skewered at Liaison Committee

Is Rishi Sunak ‘uninterested’ in the environment?

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Ex-minister defends Sunak missing PMQs

Former cabinet minister Robert Buckland defended Mr Sunak, telling Sky News’ Kay Burley: “I really think missing two Prime Minister’s Questions out of many, many, in a year is hardly skipping his responsibility to answer for his actions.

“He is accountable daily through the media and through the glare of the House of Commons, and I think the British system means prime ministers are among the moist accountable in the world.”

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