PMQs today: Rishi Sunak says he regrets making Gavin Williamson a Cabinet minister - who won PMQs?

Follow all the latest updates and analysis from the NationalWorld team for PMQs today.

Rishi Sunak insisted he was unaware of “any of the specific concerns” related to Sir Gavin Williamson’s tenure as defence secretary and chief whip after his resignation over bullying claims.

The Prime Minister said on Wednesday he “obviously” regrets bringing his ally back into the Cabinet as he faces questions over his judgment and what he knew at the time of the appointment. The former Cabinet minister resigned last night amid an investigation into bullying claims, after Williamson is said to have sent offensive text messages to former chief whip Wendy Morton.

Sunak was aware of a complaint by former chief whip Wendy Morton but said he did not know about the “slit your throat” complaint by a civil servant while Sir Gavin led the Ministry of Defence or his behaviour while chief whip. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer used Prime Minister’s Questions to pressure Sunak over how the allegedly bullied official felt at hearing him welcome the resignation “with great sadness”.

Read our liveblog, with all the latest updates and analysis, to find out what happened. Email your thoughts and comments to [email protected]

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Sunak says Starmer not on side of working people

Sunak says that as Chancellor, he introduced the windfall tax. He then says - apparently unrelatedly - that Keir Starmer voted against strikes which will disrupt working people.

He says that Starmer voted against stopping disruptive protesters, presumably referring to the public order bill.

Once again Sunak shows little appetite to answer the Labour leader’s questions.

Starmer says Shell aren’t paying a penny in windfall tax

Starmer says that Sunak dodged the question about Shell, because the answer is “nothing”. He says Shell haven’t paid a penny in windfall tax.

He claims that Sunak is giving Shell a tax break for “digging for fossil fuels”, saying it is costing the taxpayer billions.

He asks: “Can he find a backbone and end his absurd oil and gas giveaway?”

Sunak says Tories will support businesses

Sunak says Labour will never understand that “businesses investing create jobs in this country”.

In a very short answer, he says that the Tories support businesses and will create prosperity.

Starmer says Sunak is ‘weak'

Starmer hits back by saying “there’s only one party that crashed the economy and they’re all sitting there”.

He starts his final question by saying: “It’s a pattern with this PM, too weak to sack the security threats sat around the Cabinet table, too weak to take part in a leadership contest after he lost the first one, too weak to stand up for working people.”

Starmer says Sunak befriended climate change deniers before U-turning on going to COP27 “at the last minute”.

Starmer echoes the clear Labour attack lines, by saying in the budget Sunak won’t bring in a bigger windfall tax, end non-dom tax status and the charitable status of private schools. This hints at personal attacks, as Sunak went to one of the country’s most expensive private schools and his wife used to have non-dom tax status.

He said this was Labour’s plan for working people, adding: “If he can’t even stand up to a cartoon bully with a pet spider, if he’s too scared to face the public in an election, what chance has he got of running the country?”

Sunak brings up Jeremy Corbyn again

Rishi Sunak again highlighted Starmer’s previous support for Jeremy Corbyn when the Islington North MP led the Labour Party.

He added: “(Sir Keir) said a lot today but it’s clear he isn’t focused on the serious issues that are confronting our country.”

To heckles from Labour, Mr Sunak said: “We’re strengthening our economy, he’s backing the strikers. We’re supporting people with energy bills, he’s supporting the protesters.

“We’re tackling illegal migration, he’s opposing every measure. The British people want real leadership on the serious global challenges we face and that’s what they’ll get from this Government.”

Commentators’ PMQs verdict

The Daily Mirror’s Kevin Maguire.

Sky News’ Beth Rigby.

HuffPost UK’s Kevin Schofield.

Global’s Lewis Goodall.

ITV’s Paul Brand.

The experience and confidence that Sir Keir Starmer has now at PMQs was too much for Rishi Sunak, who appeared as if he was going through the motions at the dispatch box today.

The Labour leader attacked the new PM over his appointment of Gavin Williamson on four separate occasions, saying Sunak couldn’t stand up to “a cartoon bully with a pet spider”.

Strangely, Sunak appeared more confident when talking about Williamson resigning than going after Starmer.

At one point he failed to realise that he was supposed to speak, and had to be ushered up to the dispatch box by a fellow front bencher. He also gave several very short responses to Starmer - which made the Labour leader look even more Prime Ministerial.

And Sunak failed to answer several of Starmer’s questions, instead giving vague platitudes about how the Tories were on the side of working people. He also went back to the attack line of saying Starmer supported Jeremy Corbyn.

If this is all the Conservatives have to throw at the Labour leader, who expelled Corbyn from the party, then the opposition will be very pleased.

Backbench Tory MPs might be starting to get slightly restless after another weak performance from Sunak, as they were noticeably less vociferous today than in previous weeks.

Who won? Sir Keir Starmer

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