Sir Keir Starmer labels Rishi Sunak the 'blancmange Prime Minister' over house-building targets U-turn

The Government has watered down local housebuilding targets to avoid the first major Commons rebellion of Rishi Sunak’s premiership.

Published Last updated

Sir Keir Starmer has described Rishi Sunak as a “blancmange Prime Minister” who “sold out the aspirations of those who want to own their own home”.

The Government has watered down local housebuilding targets to avoid the first major Commons rebellion of Rishi Sunak’s premiership.

The Labour leader said: “Does he really expect us to believe that the member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers) and the member for the Isle of Wight (Bob Seely) are cheering him on because he’s going to build more homes?”

Sir Keir added: “I’ll tell him what changed: his backbenchers threatened him. And, as always, the blancmange Prime Minister wobbled. He did a grubby deal with a handful of his MPs and sold out the aspirations of those who want to own their own home. Was it worth it?”

Sir Keir Starmer has described Rishi Sunak as a “blancmange Prime Minister” who “sold out the aspirations of those who want to own their own home”.
Sir Keir Starmer has described Rishi Sunak as a “blancmange Prime Minister” who “sold out the aspirations of those who want to own their own home”.

Mr Sunak replied: “As ever, engaging in the petty personality politics, not focused on the substance. Again, let me explain what we’re doing.

“We’re delivering what I said we would do: we are protecting the character of local communities, we are cracking down on land banking and irresponsible developers. And we are giving people a greater say in their decisions.

“Just this week, on Monday, the honourable gentleman said the Government should be giving people more power and control. Now he seems to be opposing that policy. It’s only Wednesday, I know he flip-flops but, even for him, it’s pretty quick.”

The Labour leader continued to question why the PM would rather “cripple housebuilding” than accept Labour support.

Sir Keir told the Commons: “He has forgotten, last week I offered him Labour votes to pass these housing targets, because this is bigger than politics.

“The former housing secretary on their side said scrapping mandatory targets … would be colossal failure of political leadership. No wonder he doesn’t want to fight the next election.”

He asked: “Why would he rather cripple housebuilding than work with us to get those targets through?”

The Labour leader continued to question why the PM would rather “cripple housebuilding” than accept Labour support.
The Labour leader continued to question why the PM would rather “cripple housebuilding” than accept Labour support.

The Prime Minister replied: “We are not going to work with the Labour Party on housing – you know why? We will have a look at their record on housing.”

Mr Sunak then claimed that Boris Johnson built 60,000 affordable homes as mayor while Sadiq Khan has built “half of that amount”.

Downing Street said on Tuesday that a promise to build 300,000 homes every year by the mid-2020s remains a “goal”.

The Bill is expected to return to the Commons next week for day two of its report stage.