Sunak clashes with senior Welsh MP over respect for Parliament
Rishi Sunak was accused of caring more about the laws of cricket than respecting Parliament in tetchy exchanges with a senior MP.
Standards Committee chairman Sir Chris Bryant clashed with the Prime Minister over his attendance in the Commons chamber.
Sir Chris challenged Mr Sunak over his failure to deliver a major NHS statement in Parliament and missing the next two sessions of Prime Minister’s Questions.
He also questioned him on his absence from votes on the conduct of Owen Paterson and Boris Johnson.
“We are talking about your respect for Parliament,” the MP for Rhondda said.
In a reference to Downing Street’s comments on the controversial Lord’s Ashes Test, Sir Chris said: “For two rule-breaking moments you chose not to be in Parliament but yesterday you opined on the rules of cricket.”
Mr Sunak said “I’m very happy to talk about the rules of cricket, as you mentioned”, but Sir Chris shot back: “But not about rule-breaking in Parliament.”
Appearing in front of the Liaison Committee of senior MPs, Mr Sunak said: “I have always tried to announce what I can in Parliament.”
On his decision to miss the vote on whether Mr Johnson lied to MPs in order to attend a Jewish Care dinner event, he said: “I chose to fulfil my obligation to an incredible charity, for whom that is one of their significant fundraising moments of the year.”
And he defended missing the next two Prime Minister’s Questions appearances to attend an NHS 75th anniversary service on Wednesday and the Nato summit next week.
Mr Sunak said that even if he was not attending the NHS event, he might be expected to attend a ceremony involving the King in Scotland.
He told Labour MP Sir Chris: “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 also will be speaking at the NHS church service on Wednesday.”
Mr Sunak told Sir Chris said he had not fully read a Privileges Committee report on allies of Mr Johnson seeking to undermine the work of the panel during its investigation into the former prime minister.
Tory peer Lord Goldsmith quit as a minister after Mr Sunak asked him to apologise after being named in the report.
The Prime Minister said: “I’ve read the findings of the report, I haven’t read the report yet cover to cover.”
Asked if the Tory MPs named in the report should apologise, Mr Sunak said there was a difference because of Lord Goldsmith’s position as a minister.
The Prime Minister denied claims that a “blob” of civil servants is hindering ministers’ efforts to govern.
He was asked by Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee chairman William Wragg if he recognised “alarming reports of a ‘blob’ wandering down Whitehall thwarting ambitions of ministers”.
The Prime Minister told the Commons Liaison Committee: “No. It doesn’t come from me.
“I’ve always been supported by incredibly hard-working and diligent civil servants who responded to what I needed and worked all hours day and night to deliver what I’ve wanted.”
The Prime Minister said he is yet to receive predecessor Liz Truss’s resignation honours list.
And asked by Tory MP Mr Wragg if he thinks it would be appropriate to produce his own resignation honours list when he leaves office, Mr Sunak said: “It is not something I’m focused on.”
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