Tony Blair has been accused of leading a "government of the living dead" - but insisted he will be driving policy on despite his forthcoming resignation.
Tory leader David Cameron made the claim as he listed ministers expected to face the axe when the prime minister steps down in seven weeks time.
He said Mr Blair's government was now in "paralysis" - but Mr Blair warned Mr Cameron against getting "cocky".
Mr Blair said that at general elections policy counts "and on policy, we win".
In boisterous exchanges the day before Mr Blair is expected to announce his plan to resign as Labour leader, Mr Cameron said: "We've got a home secretary splitting his department but he's already resigned.
"We've got a foreign secretary negotiating a European treaty that she won't be around to ratify.
"And we've got a prime minister who, even after last week's drubbing, simply doesn't understand that it's over," he said, referring to Labour's losses in elections in England, Scotland and Wales.
Mr Blair countered that he would be concentrating on "the policies for the economy and health, and education and law and order" during the seven weeks he is expected to stay in Downing Street while his Labour successor is chosen.
"This is a government that has run the strongest economy the country has seen in 10 years. Just last week, health service waiting lists again down.
"The best school results this country has ever seen, and living standards for every section of the population up.
"He can be as cocky as he likes about the local election results. Come the general election, it's policy that counts and on policy, we win and he loses."
But Mr Cameron retaliated by claiming that the Labour leader "just doesn't get it".
"How can the health department sort itself out when we all know the secretary of state is for the chop?
"Take the new justice minister - he was pathetically pleading for his job on the radio this morning. Everybody knows he's not going to last five minutes.
"I don't know why the Cabinet are all shouting - the chancellor's spin doctors are all running around the lobby, handing out all of their jobs. This is the government of the living dead."
The prime minister's official spokesman later stressed that Mr Blair still had lots of work to do on domestic issues such as health and education.
There were two policy review papers on the role of the state and on families and two white papers on planning and energy security yet to be published, he said.
And there would also be international matters to deal with in the run-up to this summer's G8 and EU summits.