Labour leader Keir Starmer has urged the Prime Minister to call a general election as he claimed the Tory government has “abandoned” those struggling during the cost-of-living crisis.

Sir Keir used Prime Minister’s Questions to boast about his party’s double by-election victory last week, which saw two huge swings in favour of Labour.

The Labour leader pointed to comments reported from the losing Tory candidate for the Tamworth by-election, Andrew Cooper, who Sir Keir said told the public “to eff off if they’re struggling with the cost-of-living”.

Mr Cooper had defended sharing a post of social media that told jobless parents who cannot afford to feed their children to "f*** off" if they still pay a £30 phone bill.

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In response, Rishi Sunak joked that the new Labour MP for Mid Bedfordshire “might actually support me a little bit more than the last one”, after the outgoing Tory MP Nadine Dorries repeatedly criticised the PMs leadership.

Mr Sunak pointed to the Labour leader’s “track record of U-turns”, but failed to acknowledge the comments made by the Conservative candidate.

Sir Keir pointed to the claims by the Prime Minister that he was “the change candidate”, but warned “he can’t even distance himself from those appalling comments”.

He added: “But I do have to ask him, I do have to ask him, where on earth does the Prime Minister think his candidate got the idea in the first place, that throwing expletives at struggling families was his Government’s official position?”

The Labour leader accused the Prime Minister of repeatedly “boasting about how great things are”, but added that “the voters keep telling him he’s got it wrong”.

Sir Keir, who is flying high in the polls while support for the Conservatives has dropped, told MPs that the British public want the opportunity to return the complement to a UK Government which has told them to “eff off”.

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He said: “Across our country, the British people are rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it, doing their best in the face of a punishing cost-of-living crisis and a Government that has abandoned them. Abandoned renters at risk of being kicked out, abandoned mortgage payers struggling to make ends meet, abandoned those who dream of owning their own house.

“The truth is his candidate in Tamworth summed up perfectly just how his and his Tories are treating the British public. So will he just call a general election and give the British public the chance to respond as they did in Selby, Mid Beds and Tamworth?

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“They have heard the Government telling them to ‘eff off’ and they want the chance to return the compliment.”

But Mr Sunak did not commit to calling a general election, which must take place by January 2025.

In response, the Prime Minister said: “As we saw with his recent decisions on actually building new houses, politicians like him always take the easy way out. We are getting on making the right long-term decisions to change this country for the better, on net zero, on HS2 on a smoke-free generation, on education and energy security.

“Contrast that to his leadership: too cautious to say anything and hope that nobody notices. Let me tell him, come that general election the British people will.”