The pair stood in for their respective bosses Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer at the usual Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) slot, with the former currently in Washington, DC attempting to keep the UK’s much-discussed “special relationship” with the US viable.
In a heated back-and-forth that predominantly focused on issues such as the PM’s attempts to secure a trade deal with the US, and incoming energy bill hikes, Ms Rayner went after her Tory counterpart over the cuts facing working people.
Circling back to Mr Raab’s infamous family vacation to Greece – which he was on at the time Kabul fell to the Taliban – Ms Rayner asked if the Cabinet minister could tell MPs “how many days a worker on the minimum wage would have to work, this year, in order to afford a night at a luxury hotel – say in Crete”.
After some jeers and laughs from both sides of the Commons, including a smirk from Mr Raab himself, he responded by saying past Labour governments had caused “the economy to nosedive, unemployment to soar and taxes to go through the roof”.
His failure to answer Ms Rayner’s question, which she quickly pointed out to her colleagues, follows criticism of the Tories for ministers’ failure to understand the true impact and cost of cuts to services such as Universal Credit (UC) and hikes to the National Insurance tax.
Therese Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, was accused last week of getting her figures wrong after suggesting that people set to lose £20 a week from their UC could work an extra two hours to make up for it.
The Resolution Foundation think-tank later said the true figure was in fact somewhere between nine and 10 hours.
Standing to reply, Ms Rayner said: “[Mr Raab] speaks of the economy, but he doesn’t even know how much his own holiday costs – so let me tell him.
“A worker on the minimum wage would need to work an extra 50 days to pay for a single night at his favourite resort.”
She added the cost would likely be “even more if the sea was open”, referring to Mr Raab’s claim at the time his holiday made the headlines that he was not on the beach when Kabul became occupied because “the sea was closed”.
“The very same week that the government is cutting Universal Credit, working people face soaring energy bills,” Ms Rayner said, before telling the deputy PM that the Conservatives were forcing “working people … to choose whether to feed their kids or heat their homes”.
Ms Rayner, who is also the party’s shadow secretary of state, posted a series of tweets following her exchange with Mr Raab.
In them, she accused the Conservatives of being a party that “doesn’t care about working people and is taking £1,100 out of the pockets of a worker as their energy bills soar”.
Journalists, political commentators and social media users alike celebrated Ms Rayner’s victory at the Commons session, with many taking to Twitter to say she “thrashed” Mr Raab and some suggesting she was “so much better” at doing so than Sir Keir.