Live: Prime minister's questions

Prime minister's questions

David Cameron had all the aggression of a man with his back against the wall.

The economic crisis has hardly been fertile territory for the Conservatives, but their leader clearly judged it was time to plough into Labour's handling of the problems - and hope to bury the awkward questions over his shadow chancellor George Osborne.

The saga of who said what about a donation at gatherings of the rich and powerful in Corfu may be the story dominating headlines and the talk of the Commons tearoom, but at prime minister's questions Mr Cameron was clearly desperate to steer well away from it all.

The financial crisis has given Gordon Brown a new sense of energy and purpose.

He pressed home his political advantage on the issue, announcing new measures to try to reduce repossessions.

David Cameron pursued his efforts to pin the blame for the problems on the prime minister, accusing him of racking up the biggest budget deficit in the developed world.

Gordon Brown for the first time uttered the "r" word - recession, agreeing with the governor of the Bank of England that Britain appears to be heading into recession.

But he insisted the economic downturn was a global problem, caused by irresponsible lending in the United States.

For once it was Mr Cameron who was close to losing his cool, accusing the prime minister of being a "master of dodgy accounting", pressing his opponent time and again to admit he'd been wrong to claim an end to boom and bust.

Gordon Brown said it was the Tories who had been wrong on a series of decisions, on Northern Rock, short-selling and deregulation.

He got in his own dig at George Osborne's difficulties, saying "people will be tested on the judgements they made".

But it was left to the veteran left-wing Labour MP Dennis Skinner to raise the issue of the Corfu yacht in the final minutes of the session.

He asked Gordon Brown for a rock solid assurance that whatever he did to clear the nations debts he would never ever meet a Russian millionaire to to "cadge" the money.

It prompted uproar in the Commons, and thunderous looks from Mr Osborne sitting on the front bench beside Mr Cameron.

Once the laughter died down the prime minister said it was a very serious matter and said he hoped it would be investigated "by the authorities".

But as no donation was ever handed over and all the disputed conversations were in private yachts and villas in Corfu, it is hard to see what form of investigation will actually take place.


The Daily Politics' analysis of Prime Minister's Questions. Andrew Neil and Anita Anand talk to Nick Robinson, Ben Bradshaw and Chris Grayling.

1329 Mr Redwood goes on to call the whole Osborne affair an "absurd media fantasy". And, on that note, it is time to end our weekly live coverage of PMQs. Please join us again next Wednesday.

1324 Labour MP Tony Wright tells BBC Radio 4's World at One there were some "joyous" moments at PMQs, particularly jokes and comments at George Osborne's expense. Conservative John Redwood says it is more appropriate that Business Secretary Lord Mandelson should face questions.

Carole Walker
1310: ANALYSIS BY CAROLE WALKER: David Cameron had all the aggression of a man with his back against the wall. The economic crisis has hardly been fertile territory for the Conservatives, but their leader clearly judged it was time to plough into Labour's handling of the problems - and hope to bury the awkward questions over his shadow chancellor George Osborne

1251 Yvette Cooper, chief secretary to the Treasury, tells Daily Politics the UK economy is better placed to weather a recession than in the early 1990s.

Chris Grayling
1240 Shadow work and pensions secretary Chris Grayling responds to Mr Bradshaw's comments by saying people do not want the opposition to "pull its punches where criticism of the government is due".

Ben Bradshaw
1238 Health Minister Ben Bradshaw criticises Mr Cameron for adopting a "Punch and Judy" approach to questioning, which, he adds on Daily Politics, will alienate people struggling to deal with the effects of the global downturn.

Nick Robinson
1234 BBC political editor Nick Robinson says Mr Brown looked more comfortable than on some recent occasions and that Mr Cameron also seemed confident. He adds that the PM is trying to redirect the Osborne story by mentioning a possible investigation by the relevant authorities.

1232 The session - a more boisterous one than in recent weeks - has ended.

1230 Labour veteran Dennis Skinner causes laughter and uproaor, by asking that the government, no matter how great its difficulties, will ever meet a Russian billionaire to help things. Mr Brown replies that it is a "serious matter" and "I hope the authorities investigate it".

1229 Lib Dem Adrian Saunders says water rates in the south east of England need action. The PM says the South West has enjoyed better services under Labour.

1228 Mr Brown says more stops and searches are being carried out to tackle gun and knife crime, adding that the culture must change to make it "wholly unacceptable" to carry weapons.

1224 Mr Brown announces the 100th hospital to open under the government's modernisation scheme.

1223 Lib Dem Andrew George asks Mr Brown to ensure working families receive some support, as the government "bills and spends". Mr Brown says housing supply in the social sector is increasing.

1221 Tory John Whittingdale asks whether the government will consider reinstating empty property relief. The PM says it will look at all options to help people.

1220 Fuel again. Mr Brown says lower-income households are benefitting from government help.

1218 Another joke - this time at George Osborne's expense. Mr Clegg says the government is "all at sea", but not on a luxury yacht. Mr Clegg asks again about help with fuel bills. Mr Brown retorts that Mr Clegg has committed his own party to 20bn of public spending cuts.

Nick Clegg
1217 Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg asks what will be done for pensioners facing hardships this winter, as well as helping out banks. Mr Brown jokes that the pension is "more than 30 a week" - a reference to a recent gaffe by Mr Clegg. He adds that measures are helping people and asks for all-party support.

1215 Labour's Angela Smith asks the PM about "outrageous" fuel and energy prices. He says the government has taken action and expects people to get the benefit of lower wholesale costs.

1214 Amid shouting from the backbenches, Mr Brown says the Tories have taken the "wrong judgement" on several occasions. Mr Cameron is back up, saying to ordinary people "this is a bust". Mr Brown retorts that the Conservatives have no policy ideas.

boxing glove
1211 Mr Cameron tells Mr Brown to admit he did not abolish boom and bust. The atmosphere in the chamber is lively. Mr Brown says the problems are a result of global causes. He says the Conservatives are a "million miles away from the solution".

1210 Mr Cameron says the PM should admit he has not abolished boom and bust. Mr Brown says Mr Cameron needs to "look again" at what is happening to the global economy to reach a "better solution" and says opposition leaders must not talk down the economy.

1208 Mr Brown says the UK has the ability to borrow through difficult times and urges cross-party support for "difficult decisions", accusing Mr Cameron of changing his mind.
1206 The speaker urges former minister Don Touhig to behave himself.

David Cameron
1204 Conservative leader Cameron leads off his questions by focusing on the economy, in particular criticising the size of public borrowing. He calls on the prime minister to admit he "got it wrong" during his time as chancellor.

Gordon Brown
1201 It has started. The PM calls the Taleban's killing of an aid worker in Afghanistan "barbaric".

1200 Gordon Brown is in the chamber, reading through his notes.

1200 BBC political editor Nick Robinson says David Cameron will try to talk about the economy but adds that Mr Brown might add a "little dig" about Mr Osborne.

1157 As Wales Questions move towards an end, excitement about the big event is building. Alistair Darling has arrived.

1154 A few minutes to go now and the House of Commons is almost full. Cabinet members Geoff Hoon and Alan Johnson are in.

1147 Columnist Peter Hitchens tells Daily Politics that George Osborne is an "unimpressive" politician. Mr Grayling responds by criticising Business Secretary Lord Mandelson.

Chris Grayling
1141 Shadow work and pensions secretary Chris Grayling tells Daily Politics says the government has "plenty of time" to schedule a debate on abortion if it wants to. Mr Brown may be asked about that.

1139 Meanwhile, Wales Questions are under way and the chamber is about a quarter full. The MPs usually start filing in in earnest about 10 to 15 minutes before PMQs.

Ben Bradshaw
1135 Health Minister Ben Bradshaw tells BBC Two's Daily Politics there are forecasts on the economy which are less harsh than that given by Mr King, adding that the government will do its utmost to reduce the effects. Might Mr Brown take the same line?

1132 Just half an hour to go now. This has to be one of the most unpredictable PMQs for some time, but perhaps Bank of England chairman Mervyn King's unhappy prognosis for the economy will force the hands of David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

1127 Other subjects which might, just might, possibly warrant a question are today's select committee report criticising the provision of public toilets by councils and the exiled residents of the Chagos Islands, who have had the right to return to their Indian Ocean homeland overturned by the House of Lords.

1118 As usual on a Wednesday, PMQs is the second item on the House of Commons agenda. This time it is preceded by questions to Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy.

1111 There has been a lack of what might be termed "Punch and Judy politics" during PMQs since MPs returned from the summer recess and this session does not look like it will be any less sombre. Issues including the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, particularly the issue of abortion, and the international financial situation could be mentioned. Whether shadow chancellor George Osborne's problems will warrant a question is debatable. If they are brought up, it will most likely be by a backbencher.

1107 Hello and welcome to our live text coverage of prime minister's questions from the House of Commons. Gordon Brown returns - after missing last week's session to attend a European summit - to be grilled by Conservative leader David Cameron, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and various backbenchers. Those selected by ballot to quiz the PM include Conservative John Whittingdale, Labour's Fabian Hamilton and Lib Dem Andrew George. There will be commentary from my colleague Carole Walker and you can take part by sending in your texts, emails and other messages.


"As someone made redundant and really struggling to find work I would like answers as to how we are going to get out of this economic mess" Joe, Leicestershire

"It would be nice to see written questions submitted to the PM which would then be answered essay-style with references to statistics and solid evidence" Will, Spain

"Gordon Brown should be asked what plans he has to counteract the catastrophic overnight fall in the pound against the dollar" Andrew Wilson

"Will Brown finally admit that he has abolished boom and bust on day that Mervyn King tells us that we are entering the recession" Nigel Barlow, Manchester

"I hope MPs will address serious questions on minimising the effect of the economic slowdown and how to get public confidence back in the economy" Simon, London


Gordon Brown The Full Story
All the action with key points, analysis and reaction from Gordon Brown's weekly grilling

June 2008 -

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific