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Silence is not golden for Sunak and Hunt

By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

The reaction of Tory MPs to Keir Starmer’s attack on the government in his budget response will be of concern to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.

By now, those of you who are interested will have trawled through the details of the Chancellors budget and made your own minds up as to whether it was good, bad, or indifferent.

However, as an observer of the politics of an event that the government was hoping could be used to relaunch a Conservative administration that, according to one poll this week, is a massive 27% behind Labour (the Tories recording their lowest rating ever at just 20% support), what was most instructive was the reaction – or rather lack of it – from those backbenchers sat behind Jermey Hunt when the Leader of the Opposition offered a blistering critique of the country’s economic plight.

In a twelve-minute tirade of criticism, Starmer was met with a wall of silence from those sat opposite him in the Commons chamber. There was none of the usual jeering, catcalling, or squeals of faux anger as the Labour leader cited his charge sheet against Rishi Sunak and Co, his opening line “The last desperate act of a party that has failed” setting the tone of, by any objective standard, what was a very effective response to the budget.

That lack of response from the Tory faithful, not simply the general lack of enthusiasm for Hunt’s budget, but the quiet acceptance of Labours attack, will have been noted with concern by the Prime minister and the Chancellor – or “the Chuckle Brothers” as Starmer described them.

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