PMQs: Cameron deflects Miliband attack as Clegg bites his lip

Miliband: "This prime minister thinks he's born to rule, the truth is he's just not very good at it."
Miliband: "This prime minister thinks he's born to rule, the truth is he's just not very good at it."

By Ian Dunt

David Cameron survived an attack on his relationship with Nick Clegg today, after Ed Miliband failing to land a blow on the prime minister.

The last PMQs of 2011 saw the deputy prime minister cut an isolated figure, biting his lip throughout proceedings and forcing a laugh during the exchanges.

"It's good to see the deputy prime minister back in his seat," Mr Miliband observed when he started his questioning, referring to Mr Clegg's absence during the prime minister's statement to the Commons on the EU summit last Monday.

The Labour leader quoted Mr Clegg's new year's message from 12 months ago, when he promised to bring in "a more collegiate approach" to government.

"What's gone wrong?" Mr Miliband asked.


Mr Cameron replied: "No-one in this House is surprised Conservatives and Liberal Democrats don't agree on Europe.

"It's not that bad. It's not like we're brothers or anything."

The line – a reference to tensions between Mr Miliband and his brother David – prompted widespread laughter in the Commons, leading Mr Cameron to add: "He certainly walked into that one."

In a joke-filled session which had the air of end-of-term about it, Mr Miliband compared Mr Clegg to a housewife who discovers her husband is cheating on her, complete with a "four AM phone call confessing a terrible mistake".

He added: "This prime minister thinks he's born to rule, the truth is he's just not very good at it."

Mr Cameron replied: "Every single [Labour MP] has asked Santa for the same thing - a new leader for Christmas."

Most commentators concluded the prime minister easily won the exchanges.

Mr Cameron has been cruising on a wave of positive poll results since vetoing the EU initiative early in the hours of Friday morning, but his move has opened up deep divisions with Mr Clegg, whose pro-EU agenda contrasts sharply with that of Tory eurosceptic backbenchers.

The deputy prime minister's refusal to attend the Commons on Monday drew attention to the split between him and Mr Cameron, with some commentators asking whether the coalition can survive to 2015.

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