Keir Starmer manufacturers PM ‘a jumped up milk monitor’ centered on rainbow lanyards

Keir Starmer has accused the Tories of being focused on culture war issues like civil servants’ rainbow lanyards while domestic abusers are being released early from prisons.

In a fiery PMQs exchange, the Labour leader attacked Rishi Sunak for focusing on “confiscating lanyards like some jumped up milk monitor” and demanded he instead “stop issuing get out of jail cards free to prisoners considered a risk to children”. Mr Starmer criticised a scheme to let prisoners out of jail up to 70 days early after the prisons watchdog on Tuesday warned a domestic abuser who is a risk to children and had a history of stalking has had their release date brought forward.

He hit out at Mr Sunak’s speech on security earlier this week as he fumed: “Does the early release of stalkers, domestic abusers and those considered a risk to children sound like the work of someone who is making the country more secure?”

Rishi Sunak was mocked after defending that people on life sentences won't be released from jail early

Rishi Sunak was mocked after defending that people on life sentences won’t be released from jail early

Mr Starmer continued: “Perhaps the most ludicrous part of the PM’s speech on Monday was when he said he wouldn’t accept the idea that any of the problems people are facing are caused by the 14 years of Conservative government. He won’t say how many prisoners they have released early, he won’t say if they are burglars, abusers or stalkers, he won’t say where they are or what support their victims are getting.

“Yet he thinks he has the right to tell people they can’t blame his government for any of it. Doesn’t he think that rather than confiscating lanyards like some jumped up milk monitor, he should stop issuing get out of jail cards free to prisoners considered a risk to children?” It was in reference to the so-called Common Sense Minister, Esther McVey, suggesting civil servants who wear colourful lanyards supporting LGBTQ causes should be disciplined.

Mr Sunak said: “No-one should be put on this scheme who is a threat to the public and let me be crystal clear, it does not apply to anyone serving a life sentence. It does not apply to anyone convicted of a serious violent offence, anyone convicted of terrorism, anyone convicted of a sex offence.”

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But Mr Starmer mocked the PM’s response as he said he was “glad to hear those who are on life sentences aren’t going to be released early”. He added: “He may not think that releasing domestic abusers is a problem but Labour has repeatedly called for domestic abusers to be exempt from his scheme to release prisoners early, His Government has shamefully ignored those calls so now we have the evidence that domestic abusers are being released early.”

Mr Sunak said: “There is an absolute governor lock on people who are put on the scheme, and in contrast to the last Labour, prisoners were let out with no supervision, no electronic tags.” He added the Tories were building “the biggest prison programme in history”.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons said on Tuesday that the Tories’ plan to let out offenders up to 70 days early to ease prison overcrowding “was undermining good, safe release planning and risk management”. Charlie Taylor said resettlement agencies have had to scramble to redraw release plans for prisoners “from scratch in as little as two or three weeks”.

On Wednesday it emerged the Tories have been forced to delay some court hearings because of a lack of prison cells. People who are arrested may remain in police cells instead of going to court for their bail hearing as prisons are too full. Under emergency measures, staff are being diverted to assess if there is capacity across the region and to ensure cases for more serious crimes are prioritised.

Experts say it will mean victims, witnesses, defendants and lawyers will turn up at magistrates’ courts only to find out that their cases have been delayed. The plan, called Operation Early Dawn, is expected to be in place for around a week.