Starmer humiliated as PM points out escapes under Labour were 10 times higher

PMQs row over prison escapes

Rishi Sunak left Sir Keir Starmer humiliated at Prime Minister’s Questions this lunchtime, after revealing prison escapes were ten times higher under the last Labour Government.

The pair tussled over the escape of Daniel Khalife, with Sir Keir Starmer demanding to know why he had not been held in a Category A prison despite his terrorism charge.

An exasperated Mr Sunak said he ‘shouldn’t have to explain’ to Sir Keir – a former Director of Public Prosecutions – that not all terrorism prisoners are kept in Category A prisons.

He added: “The Honourable Member, with his background, should know better.

“It is not, and has never been, the policy that they are all held in Category A prisons, something that he shouldn’t need me to point out to him given his experience.”

READ MORE: HMP Wandsworth moves 40 inmates out of prison after Daniel Khalife escape

Mr Sunak then dropped the bombshell that prison escapes were “nearly 10 times higher” under the last Labour government than the Conservatives.

“I am happy to tell him that over the last few years we have delivered an extra 4000 new prison officers, staffing levels at Wandsworth in particular are up by 25 percent in the past six years. And because we’re boosting prison pay, we’re also improving retention,

Sir Keir accused the Prime Minister of trying to paint the picture that “everything is great and fine out there”.

“It’s so at odds with the lived experience in the real world.”

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The Labour leader also quoted the family of Zara Aleena, who said ministers have “blood on their hands after probation failures that led to her murder”.

He added: “It beggars belief that we’re back here once again.”

Mr Sunak said he’d like to reassure the public that while these cases are extremely rare, the Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has launched an investigation about how this could happen in order to prevent any future repeats.

The Labour leader also asked about “another security issue”, namely the recent news of a Tory aide arrested under suspicion of being a Chinese spy.

The man in his 20s was arrested in March, but the Government has continued to engage with China since.

The PM previously said he’s raised “that type of activity” with the Chinese, but Sir Keir asked whether the Foreign Secretary James Cleverly raised the specific case when he visited China a few weeks ago.

Mr Sunak said the Foreign Secretary “raised these issues with the Chinese foreign minister, as did I when I had my meeting with President Li over the weekend”.

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