Prescott slams 'tosser' Tories

John Prescott turns the Tories' 'tosser' debt ads against them
John Prescott turns the Tories' 'tosser' debt ads against them

John Prescott has accused the Conservatives of being "tossers" in a heated House of Commons exchange with William Hague.

The deputy prime minister was referring to the Tories' new campaign to get people to deal with their personal debt, in which a character described as "your inner tosser" is pictured spending way beyond his means.

His comments came as he stood in for Tony Blair, who is at a Nato summit in Latvia, during prime minister's questions. Tory leader David Cameron was also absent, leaving his shadow foreign secretary, Mr Hague, to battle for him.

The exchanges between the two men started amicably enough, with discussion over the situation in Iraq - where Mr Hague and Mr Cameron were this week - and in particular the role played by the country's neighbours, Iran and Syria.


But the tension grew when Mr Hague stood up for his second lot of questions, and in reference to the pension bill published today, asked Mr Prescott how much had been lost by the chancellor's raid on tax relief on dividends in pension funds in 1997.

"I'm sure the honourable member will tell me in his second question," the deputy prime minister replied, to loud laughter among MPs.

Mr Hague said Mr Prescott would have to wait for his third question for that, before asking: "Why does the taxpayer spend £2 million keeping him in what one of his colleagues called a non-job when he can't even answer a question?"

The deputy prime minister replied that he would "take no lecture from the Tories on pensions" and said he and Gordon Brown "totally reject" claims that removing tax credits on share dividends was the same as robbing pension funds.

But Mr Hague quoted recent research by the Institute of Actuaries suggesting this move cost £100 billion, and argued: "When the government came to power it had one of the strongest pension provision in Europe, and now it has some of the weakest."

At this point, Mr Prescott dispensed with any formalities. He said Mr Hague's "clever remarks" were not convincing the electorate and then hit him with the star of the Tories' new online debt campaign, sort-it.co.uk.

"They have brought in a new person to get people to vote Tory. I've noticed it happens to be - and I've seen this on the website - Mr Tosser," Mr Prescott said.

"Now I don't know which person this man was modelled on on the front bench but let me tell him, I always thought that party was full of them and that's why they lost three elections."

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