PMQs as-it-happened: After the resignation, the mauling

Alex Stevenson By

David Cameron faces the Commons chamber after Maria Miller's resignation. Follow our live coverage as the prime minister is put through the wringer

12:35 - And so that's that; I'm going to leave it there and find out what the spinners are saying down the corridor. Thanks for following our live coverage.

12:33 - "Leaving the European Union should become part of our long-term economic plan," suggests David Nuttall. Cameron responds by saying he may bother to read the paper on leaving the EU - but that it might get beaten in his holiday reading list by the novel from Nadine Dorries, of all people. And with that, the session ends.

12:31 - Jake Berry is the latest Tory MP to get in the Tory bingo buzzword 'long-term economic plan'. It's becoming beyond hackneyed... but the Tories are going to keep mentioning it for years, I'm afraid. We've just got to get used to it.

12:29 - There have been a lot of questions about Northern Ireland today, as you'd imagine. The different issues being raised show just how sensitive the politics of the province continues to be.

12:27 - Sarcastic question of the week comes from the SNP's Mike Weir, who mentions George Robertson's comment that an independent Scotland would be "cataclysmic". He wants to know which of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will be the first to depend on an independent Scotland... which gets a little bit of a laugh. Well, a chuckle. Well, half a smile.

12:26 - And then we have another question about whether or not Miller resigned of her own volition off. She took her own decision, Cameron insists. He dispatches that one away very quickly.

12:25 - Tory MP Mark Pritchard calls for a reduction in the abortion limit. He wonders whether it's time to cut it to 22 weeks. Cameron: "I've always made my own personal views on this clear." He says the issue has been debated "relatively recently". And there's not much else to say about it.

12:23 - A big cheer in the Commons for Tory backbencher Jason McCartney, who announces he's going to be running in this weekend's London marathon. He reveals he saw a picture of McCartney's "attractive" shorts and the shadow chancellor's "very curious pair of black leggings" over his breakfast cereal this morning, which gets a lot of laughter.

12:22 - The House falls quiet to listen to a question from Northern Ireland MP Naomi Long, who warns against the "politics of division" in the province. Cameron's reply cites Martin McGuinness toasting the Queen at Windsor Castle at last night's state dinner.

12:18 - As PMQs progresses the mood on the frontbenches seems starkly different. Ed Balls and Ed Miliband are chit-chatting away like there's no tomorrow. On the government benches, Andrew Lansley - who defended Miller to the hilt on Newsnight yesterday - is trying to look as anonymous as possible. Sajid Javid, the new culture secretary, is in a prominent position too. He's wearing the same white shirt-blue tie combo as the PM. Which is nice.

12:15 - Andy Slaughter, the Labour shadow justice minister, asks whether anyone in No 10 asked Maria Miller to resign. Cameron's response is to retreat to Miller's letter - and then make the point that his belief in how to deal with this situation is one of  "working with colleagues and giving them the chance to get on with their jobs". What exactly would it take, then, for Cameron to actually sack someone?

12:12 - So, was that a mauling? Not really. Cameron's points in his defence were unusually weak, but Miliband didn't exactly run rings around him either.

12:09 - Now Cameron is on his high horse, listing all the things which have been done and then acknowledging there is more to do. "If you're serious, get serious," he finishes rather limply. Miliband responds by saying he'll meet with Cameron "any time", before returning to his point: "He just doesn't get it, that's what he's shown today." Miliband went because of her "bad press", he says. Cameron's been an "apologist for unacceptable behaviour". The PM then makes it his job to defend his style of "leadership" in a brief final response. He thinks it's wrong to simply fire someone off the cuff. They should get a chance to defend themselves, he argues. That was weak, that's for sure.

12:08 - Miliband is keeping his responses tied closely to the public, to the voters. They are "appalled", he says. "Even now his failure to recognise what went wrong has undermined trust not just in his government but in politics!" Cameron responds with more than a touch of bitterness; Miliband was "determined to play politics", he complains. It's just a little bit whingey.

12:06 - Miliband's comeback is: "I've heard everything - it's my job to fire members of his Cabinet!" That was very neatly dealt with. Miliband wants to know why Cameron was the "last person in the country to realise her position was untenable"? Cameron is not flailing around in response - he gets a big cheer for playing the "political bandwaggon" card. It's coming across a bit weak though. So he rallies by addressing the reform question. On expenses, he says, it's an independent body that deals with them these days. "I accept, let us do more to reassure the public about the scandal of expenses and how we're dealing with it. I'm very happy to hold meetings with party leaders, with the authorities of this House... to show this is a good and honest parliament and there are good and honest people in it." 

12:05 - "He thinks she did nothing wrong," Miliband complains. He lists Miller's sins - including a "perfunctory and inadequate apology to this House". He wonders whether this was a "terrible error of judgement". And then comes the Cameron offensive: Why didn't Miliband call for her to resign? 

12:04 - Next Miliband picks up on Cameron's point that Miller was accused of housing her parents at the public expense. She was "cleared of that allegation" - well, that depends on how you interpret the report. Oddly, Cameron is still talking about Miller as the "culture secretary" when she certainly no longer is...

12:03 - The Tories don't barrack Miliband nearly as much before he gets underway. He wants to know what lessons Cameron's learnt from his handling of the situation. "I agree with him," Cameron begins - not a bad opening gambit. "The biggest lesson I learned - that anger is very raw and it needs to be acted on," he says. Cameron then makes a rather odd defence of instantly sacking someone.

12:01 - And so we're underway with a question on immigration - a little warm-up from Labour backbencher Nia Griffith. After another question on dementia, it's time for Ed Miliband.

11:56 - After something of a technical nightmare - my computer crashed - I am now installed on my colleague Ian's laptop. It smells funny and has not been washed in ages. Meanwhile, in the Commons chamber, Speaker John Bercow is telling MPs to shut up. They just can't contain themselves with excitement.

11:36 - Here's footage of Maria Miller - looking very much like she actually has been through the wringer - explaining the reasons behind her resignation. The main point she makes it that she takes "full responsibility" for resigning - ie, 'I wasn't pushed'.

She said: "I hoped I could stay but it's become clear to me over the last few days this has been an enormous distraction and it's not right I'm distracting from the incredible achievements of this government," Miller said this morning.

"I take full responsibility for the situation, I fully accept the findings of the parliamentary standards report. I think it's important that at this time in resigning I take away this distraction... and I really do want to reiterate my full support for the prime minister."

11:26 - This session also matters because it's a huge chance for Cameron and backbenchers to make the case for reform. The present system, in which MPs mark their own homework by passing judgement on each other about expenses wrongdoing, is appalling. It needs to change. So how easy a ride will Miliband give Cameron when the PM outlines his hopelessly limited proposals for reform? That, arguably, is the biggest test for the Labour leader this lunchtime.

11:24 - The prime minister may also have a case to answer when it comes to his appointments. Sajid Javid replacing Miller as culture secretary is fine enough. But he has made Javid equalities minister, whereas it's Javid's replacement Nicky Morgan who takes on the women's minister job. As one of my colleagues in the lobby has pointed out, Morgan didn't vote in favour of gay marriage. I'd say this ought to have ruled her out of any kind of equalities job at all - but the PM obviously disagrees.

11:22 - The big challenge for Ed Miliband, of course, is not to make a hash of it. This is a magnificent opportunity for him to make mincemeat of his opposite number. Cameron is in an indefensible position - it's the political equivalent of him being in the stocks. Yet on too many occasions in the past the leader of the opposition has fluffed open goal chances like this and left himself even more red-faced than the prime minister. He needs to not just win today's exchanges, but dominate them.

11:20 - Good morning, sweet readers, and welcome to another Wednesday lunchtime. This one has some proper real news in it, like: the resignation of Maria Miller has left David Cameron in an exposed position and all the expectations are he will take a hammering. Cameron's steadfast support of Miller just wasn’t enough in the face of hostility from Conservative MPs, contempt from party members and revulsion from the general public. Now he has to face the Commons and justify himself. It's going to be gripping.

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