January 28, 2023

Keir Starmer has labeled Rishi Sunak “the blancmange prime minister” after mandatory housing targets were scrapped under pressure from Tory MPs, in another policy change pushed on the government by backbenchers in recent weeks.

Again taking advantage of the Prime Minister’s calls to attack Sunak as weak and unable to stand up to his MPs, Starmer said the government could have pushed through its housing plans with Labor backing, but instead abandoned hopes of an increase in destroyed the building levels.

“The Conservative party promised the country it would build 300,000 houses a year,” the Labor leader began. “This week, without soliciting a single voter, the Prime Minister broke that promise by scrapping mandatory targets. What changed?”

While the changed policy resulted from threats by as many as 100 MPs to support a rebel amendment to the leveling law that would have ended mandatory local targets for new housing, Sunak tried to frame the change as a deliberate choice. present.

“We are protecting the green belt,” he told Labor. “We invest millions to develop brownfields. And we provide support and protection for local neighborhood plans.”

Starmer replied by asking Sunak if he really believed Tory rebels were cheering him on because he was “going to build more houses”.

“Pull the other one,” said the Labor leader. “I’ll tell him what has changed – his backbenchers threatened him and, as always, the blancmanger prime minister wobbled. He made a grubby deal with a handful of his MPs, selling the aspirations of those who want to own their own homes. Was it worth it?”

Sunak accused Starmer of “involvement in the politics of minor personalities”, reiterating his insistence that the government “delivered what I said we would”.

He added: “We are protecting the character of local communities, we are cracking down on land banking and irresponsible developers, and we are empowering people to have a greater say in their decisions.”

Starmer took note of warnings from Conservative MPs and commentators that scrapping the targets could lead to a drop in the number of houses to be built.

“Last week I offered him Labor votes to get these housing targets because this is bigger than politics.” he said. “Why would he rather cripple housing development than work with us to get those goals through?”

Sunak was, Starmer said, “too weak to stand up for his own side on behalf of the country”, noting that the prime minister had also changed his plans in another area following pressure on the bench, overturning the de facto ban on new onshore wind farms was terminated. in England.

“Actually, I agree, but isn’t there an issue where he won’t give in to his backbenchers?” Starmer said.

Sunak responded by trying to change the subject and ask Starmer if he would condemn the railway strikes that were due to take place next week and then Christmas.

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