Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Wednesday, 4 June 2008 15:42 UK

The full story: PM's questions


Watch the full 30-minute question-and-answer session


Crewe and Nantwich, 42 days, tax discs and the price of petrol have all thrown fuel on the political funeral pyre David Cameron is trying to build under Gordon Brown.

And the week away from Westminster allowed both men to polish up their jokes. Unfortunately.

The row over the plan to increase Vehicle Excise Duty on older, larger cars - VED to you and me - VAD to the Prime Minister, apparently - was too much of a temptation for the Leader of the Opposition to resist.

It almost backfired when Gordon Brown alleged the Tories would actually have gone further, causing a rare grimace of pain from David Cameron.

But he hit back, claiming trading standards should investigate the prime minister's claims for the tax. The Tory leader was then accused of sounding like a used car salesman (geddit!), to which David Cameron replied that at least his backbenchers weren't telling him to get on his bike.

Laugh? I almost did.

Then David Cameron taunted the prime minister, quoting from a report which claimed a senior member of the Cabinet has said, among other unkind things, that he is "crap at communication".

"Which one, which one ?" he crowed, pointing at the Labour frontbench, who gave nothing away. Safety in numbers.

Gordon Brown riposted that the Leader of the Opposition had nothing to say on matters of substance. It was like they'd never been away.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, asked the prime minister to strip Robert Mugabe of his knighthood, which got a less than definitive response, while Boris Johnson, in the dying embers of his life as an MP, tried to inject a note of real levity into proceedings by asking Gordon Brown to effectively agree that everything he had done since becoming Mayor had been brilliant.

Unfortunately, the Speaker Michael Martin cut him off in his prime as we awaited what might have been a genuinely funny moment in the overheated atmosphere of prime minister's questions.



The Daily Politics' analysis of Prime Minister's Questions, with Andrew Neil, Jo Coburn, Ben Bradshaw, Michael Howard and Nick Robinson.


By Justin Parkinson

1334: That's it for now. Thank you for all your comments. Our next live event coverage will be when Tony Blair returns to Parliament on Thursday at 1100, when he will be grilled by MPs about the situation in the Middle East.

1321: Senior MPs from the three main parties give their verdicts on BBC Radio 4's The World at One. Conservative Peter Luff says Mr Cameron has "taken command" of the Commons. Lib Dem Phil Willis thinks this question time has shown the Commons "at its worst", with Mr Cameron treating big questions "like a vaudeville act rather than a serious issue of government". Meanwhile, Labour's Phyllis Starkey says the prime minister gave a "perfectly reasonable performance", while the Conservatives behaved like public schoolboys "high on drink and drugs". But Mr Luff says his party was "high-spirited" after its victory in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election.

1252: BBC political correspondent David Thompson says the atmosphere at PMQs was "overheated" and needs a little more levity.

1246: Daily Mail sketch writer Quentin Letts likens Mr Brown's appearance at PMQs to a "great, boiling saucepan of unhappiness". He tells The Daily Politics: "He didn't look comfortable today."

1240: Jacqui, in Shropshire, says: "We surely are still living in a kingdom, with a queen as our figurehead. We do not live in a Republic of Britain or Europe yet. Why, then, does Brown keep calling us 'citizens' instead of subjects?"

1235: Nick Robinson tells the Daily Politics the road tax exchanges between Mr Brown and Mr Cameron were "very revealing" about people's concerns and party strategies.

1233: BBC political editor Nick Robinson says the fact neither David Cameron nor Nick Clegg raised 42-day terror detention plans showed it was "dangerous political territory" for them, as some opinion polls had suggested it might be a popular policy.

1231: With a cheer from MPs, this week's PMQs is over.

1231: Mr Brown says Labour has got "more people in work than ever before".

1230: The prime minister says food imports and exports will always be necessary and that no country in a global economy can grow all its own food.

1229: Mr Brown says all sports should "take a responsible attitude" to the advertising of alcohol.

1227: Asked his view on whether there could be two unelected prime ministers in this Parliament, Mr Brown said he was looking at the "more important issue" of what is done for constituents.

1227: Mr Brown, responding to a question on fuel charges in Scotland from an SNP MP, says he supports the Union.

1224: Labour's Ian Gibson asks for anti-age discrimination rules to be included in the forthcoming Equalities Bill. Mr Brown says many older people need "protection in law" and that the elderly can "look forward" to proposals.

1223: London mayor Boris Johnson, who is about to stand down as an MP, begins a question but is cut short by the Speaker after he overruns. Mr Brown says the whole House will "miss" Mr Johnson and that he welcomes his ban on alcohol on London's public transport.

1221: The prime minister says there are "major civil liberties safeguards" in place to accompany the proposed increase in pre-charge detentions for terror suspects to 42 days.

1220: Mr Brown thanks Ian Paisley for his contribution as Northern Ireland first minister.

1219: Keith Wiseman, of Bury, asks why the Speaker tells Mr Cameron to ask questions but does not tell Mr Brown to answer them.

1218: Mr Brown says he is "happy" to be telephoning individual voters, as has been widely reported recently to much mockery from opponents.

1216: On the texts front, one anonymous person asks whether Mr Cameron is having a "bad hair day". Thomas, in Gwent, calls for the vehicle tax issue to be put into "plain English".

1214: Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg asks the PM to strip Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe of his honorary knighthood. Mr Brown says he will put his efforts into ending famine in the country and improving its governance. He adds that the first thing the international community can do is make sure elections in Zimbabwe are fair.

1213: Returning to knife crime, Mr Brown says the government will be publishing more proposals on Thursday and that the government wants to "support" parents.

1211: Mr Cameron says if Mr Brown does not get rid of the vehicle tax, his party will get rid of him, but the PM says his opponent "runs away" from big issues.

1210: Mr Cameron says it is unfair to impose "retrospective" taxes on car owners. Mr Brown says Mr Cameron is "backing away" from his own proposals.

1209: Speaker Michael Martin castigates shadow schools secretary Michael Gove for shouting.

1203: Tory leader David Cameron accuses the government of a "tax hike" on family cars, and asks whether the government will give one of his "trademark U-turns". He says green taxes should be "offset" by fewer family taxes and that people will be worse off. Mr Brown says the details are in the Budget documents and urges the Tory leader to agree with him. But Mr Cameron says that "if a company director got up and made a statement like that, the authorities would be after him". However, Mr Brown argues that more cars are "less polluting" as a result of recent measures. He says Mr Cameron is "sounding more and more like a used car salesman".

1202: The PM says carrying knives is "unacceptable" and that the average sentence for doing so is rising.

1200: We are off. Gordon Brown sends his condolences to the family of a marine who died recently.

1158:: As the final minutes tick by before PMQs, BBC political editor Nick Robinson tells BBC Two's The Daily Politics he thinks David Cameron and Nick Clegg will not mention the 42-day terror detention plan, making PMQs "unpredictable".

1146: The prime minister is on his way from Downing Street to Parliament and MPs are making their way to the Commons, where Scotland Questions are taking place.

1145: Gordon Brown could be set for a rough time in his first PMQs since Labour lost the Crewe and Nantwich seat to the Conservatives in a by-election. Tory leader David Cameron may wish to taunt the PM about this or criticise the government's plans to extend pre-charge terror detentions to 42 days, which look set for a tight vote next week.

1140: Welcome. This week we'll be doing all the usual point-by-point coverage during the half hour prime minister's questions session from 1200. I'll be adding in expert comments from BBC TV and radio coverage before, during and afterwards as well as adding a taster of your views. Political correspondent David Thompson will add his instant verdict and later you will be able to watch the whole session and Nick Robinson's verdict on this page. You can follow all the updates on your mobile phone via the BBC's mobile website or keep across the key moments via our Twitter site.


Mr Brown appears to be totally unaware that the motorist, either private or a haulage company, is not a bottomless source of money.
Rob Warlow, Poynton, Cheshire

Jaqui [1240 on Key Points], you can be a subject if you want. Personally, I'm a citizen no matter what anyone says, thinks or does. They can call me a subject, but the only thing I'm subject to is the law of the land, not a person.
Rees, Bridgwater

Mr Brown is perfectly correct to say citizen. The term "British subject" was abolished in the 1981 Nationality Act.
Jack, Chester

David Cameron comes across as a smug, gloating ex-public schoolboy. Fair enough - that is the only genuine thing about him.
Bill, Basing

There are two problems with Gordon Brown: one is that his ears need syringing as he seems unable to listen to anyone, and secondly, he has a mental problem in that he's convinced he's God.
Sue Hudson, London


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