The Full Story: PM's Questions

Prime minister's questions

David Cameron pounded away at the prime minister with grim determination. "Go on, admit it," he goaded Gordon Brown. "It is your fault we're in this mess, you have not abolished boom and bust."

But "mea culpa", it seems, is just not in the prime minister's vocabulary. Had David Cameron still not got it? Every country in the world was facing a severe downturn and the cost of doing nothing would be far greater than the action the government was taking.

The Tory leader pointed out that, far from being the do-nothing party, the prime minister had been busily copying all its policies - like the loan guarantee scheme.

It was a bad-tempered exchange, with both leaders repeating their political lines in the hope they would be picked up by the TV bulletins and newspapers during the day. So who is winning the war on recession? David Cameron wants to hammer home the line that the blame for the downturn lies with Gordon Brown (helped by the recent polls suggesting the public may be agreeing with him).

In turn, the prime minister continues to paint himself as a world leader who knows what he is doing when it comes to the economy. That is why he says every other country is following Britain's lead and spending their way through the recession.

He dismissed David Cameron's attack on his strategy as a "game of student politics" the country was not interested in. But if his plans don't work, the public will no doubt wreak their revenge.


PMQs analysis from Daily Politics

1315 Thank you very much for joining us for the liveliest PMQs session so far this year. See you again next week.

1255 Disappointingly there was no mention of aliens at PMQs, despite David Cameron's promise of more government openness on UFOs, should he come to power. The BBC's Nick Robinson was, however, right to predict a Ken Clarke comment - in this case about the "shadow shadow chancellor" - from the PM. I think Brown used this one last week but it wasn't widely noticed. Jibes about the new shadow business secretary might come up quite frequently in the next few weeks, as ding-dong exchanges over the economy continue. You have been warned.

1249 MPs are now discussing the plans for a third runway at Heathrow, which the government has backed. There should be votes later on the Tory motion opposing the plan.

e-mail sent in by reader
1246 "I'm fed up with Gordon bleating about how much worse we'd be under the Tories. He never answers a single question or takes responsibility for anything, just blaming the opposition, the 'global' recession, or America. Why not ask him why he ignored all the IMF warnings about the UK economy, when he saw it all coming 10 years ago?" Richard, Ruislip

e-mail sent in by reader
1245 "When will Gordon Brown realise that this argument that the Tories are a "do nothing" party is getting him nowhere? It just appears like the last actions of a drowning man." Richard, Maidstone

1242 Nick Robinson says the PM gave a "clear signal" that he may accept some of today's proposals for dealing with the legacy of Northern Ireland's troubles, but not necessarily 12,000 payments for the families of all who died.

Iain Duncan Smith
1240 Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith tells Daily Politics most people do not watch much politics and do not hear the repetition of the leaders' remarks. That is why it is important to have a strong message and keep saying it, he adds, although this is a "hard grind".

Baroness Jay
1240 Former Labour House of Lords leader Baroness Jay says the PM was able to give a rebuttal of Mr Cameron's comments and seemed "quite tough".

1239 Nick Robinson says opinion poll movements are a warning to Mr Cameron that Mr Brown will not be "politically dead" until he is gone from office.

Nick Robinson
1239 BBC political editor Nick Robinson tells BBC Two's Daily Politics that Mr Cameron is trying to "reawaken" memories of Mr Brown's decision not to call an election in 2007, as it shows him as evasive. He adds that the PM uses the "do-nothing" critique of the Tories to try to get this message through to the public, but that this could begin to sound "stale".

1233 Veteran Tory Sir Peter Tapsell asks what the sterling value of an ounce of gold was today and what was it when Mr Brown, as chancellor, started selling reserves in 1997. Mr Brown says one of the things he bought with the money made was euros, which have gone up in value. And that's another PMQs over.

e-mail sent in by reader
1233 "I can't help but compare the evasive stance of Gordon Brown with that of Barak Obama's recent meeting with Congressional Republicans where Obama was described as not ducking the tough questions and providing intelligent informed answers...." Chris, Tunbridge Wells

1232 Tory Andrew Selous asks why the pound has fallen so sharply against the dollar and euro. The PM cautions the Conservatives against any policies which would "target sterling" rather than inflation.

e-mail sent in by reader
1231 "Equally, "Only one has us has been a PR man for a failed TV company; and he's never grown out of it." Nice, too, to have it implied that a PPE at Oxford has nothing to do with politics." Malcolm London, UK

1229 Lib Dem John Barrett calls for investment in a national high-speed rail link. Mr Brown says he is prepared to make a commitment to such a project.

e-mail sent in by reader
1229 "I would be more impressed with Cameron if he used PMQs for substantive questions on the Government's policies rather than his fetish about getting GB to admit he was wrong about boom and bust." Peter, Cambridge

1228 On House of Lords reform, Mr Brown says the government is taking the action necessary.

1227 Ex-Labour minister Don Touhig says the UK is worth backing even during the crisis. Mr Brown says the country is "resilient" and will be ready for future growth.

1226 Lib Dem Martin Horwood has a question cut short, after it goes on too long.

1226 Asked about the proposals to pay all those killed in Northern Ireland's Troubles - including "terrorists" - 12,000, Mr Brown says he will "never forget" innocent victims when looking at recommendations.

Gordon Brown
1223 Mr Brown says the UK steel industry is crucial to the country's future and that he is in discussions with Corus (which announced job losses recently).

1221 Asked about the Labour peers accused of agreeing to help try and alter legislation for money, Mr Brown says emergency sanctions may be needed if the allegations are found to be true.

1220 Asked whether the BBC's decision not to air the DEC appeal on Gaza has damaged it, Mr Brown says it is not for him to comment on the corporation's decision but adds that it is important to get aid through as quickly as possible.

1219 A Conservative MP asks why the UK is heading for a deeper recession than its competitors. The PM says the Institute of Fiscal Studies has found otherwise and that the Conservatives are "living in a dream world".

e-mail sent in by reader
1218 "Is there even the remotest possibility that Gordon Brown could respond to a Tory question with an answer that doesn't follow the pattern "at least we're not as bad as you lot"? We, the British public seem to be given only the option of the lesser of two evils - none of the parties seem concerned about telling us how good they are, only about how bad everyone else is!" Paul Graham, London

Nick Clegg
1217 Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg asks if it is right that non-UK domiciled peers should not pay their full taxes. Mr Brown says: "Of course, it's not." Mr Brown says it is important to take action but says the government is also helping ordinary taxpayers.

1216 On to the troubled car industry. Mr Brown says the government will do all it can to help.

1216 Mr Cameron says we are in the "death throes of a failed premiership". Mr Brown says the Tories are not winning the arguments on the economy. He calls shadow business secretary Ken Clarke the "shadow shadow chancellor" and says he supports many of Labour's policies.

e-mail sent in by reader
1215 "Only one of us was a student politician and one of us never grew out of it." - Not only is Cameron a great politician who verbally beats up Gordon Brown every time they meet, but he is also highly amusing. Karl, Lincoln

1212 Mr Cameron says it was not the US who created the UK's borrowing record. He accuses the PM of being "crass and insensitive" by describing the crisis as the "birth-pangs of a new global order". Mr Brown says UK debt is lower than that of many countries and says the UK was leading many others in taking measures against the downturn.

1210 As with the last few weeks, the two leaders are engaging in knockabout exchanges over the economy. Mr Brown says there is a deep world recession, one that is not caused by UK government policy or high inflation.

1209 The PM accuses Mr Cameron of playing "student politics" over the economy, to loud cheers from his benches. Mr Cameron replies that "only one of us was a student politician and he's never grown out of it", to laughter from Tory MPs.

1207 Mr Cameron says Mr Brown's poll ratings are going back to the levels of former Labour leader Michael Foot's and asks another question about "boom and bust". He is told by the Speaker not to address the PM as "you", as this is against Commons rules.

1206 The Tory leader urges Mr Brown to admit he "didn't abolish boom and bust". Mr Brown says the recession is an international phenomenon and says the Conservative policy is "doing nothing".

1205 Mr Brown says the Tories' advice, if followed, would have meant a deeper recession. Mr Cameron accuses him of complacency.

David Cameron
1204 David Cameron is up. He talks about the recession and asks how deeply the economy will retract before the PM admits there is an economic "bust".

1203 Gordon Brown is asked to ensure he tackles the waste of poverty. The PM agrees.

Nick Robinson
1201 As the action starts in the Commons BBC political editor Nick Robinson tells BBC Two's Daily Politics the economy will be a bone of contention, with some more laughs about the return of Ken Clarke to frontline politics.

1200 The chamber is full up and noisy, with Welsh questions coming to a close.

1158 The government's 2.3bn help package for the UK's car industry, denounced by the Tories as "small beer", will probably be raised during exchanges. Expect some discussion on the proposed third runway at Heathrow, which will be debated and voted on by MPs later on Wednesday. Rules on House of Lords members working as consultants could also come up, following the Sunday Times's report suggesting that four Labour peers had been ready to accept payments to help amend legislation.

1157 It's almost time now. Welsh questions are coming to an end and the chamber is filling up. Most of the Tory front bench are in.

1157 Just a thought. Will David Cameron's promise to be "open and frank", if he becomes prime minister, about all that the government knows about UFOs, be mentioned. He has already made a joke about Lord Mandelson being an alien. Could the PM, who has already "saved the world", have an extra-terrestrial jibe ready in response?

1155 Among the MPs near the top of the ballot to ask Mr Brown a question are Labour's John Battle (Leeds West) and Helen Southworth (Warrington South), Conservatives Andrew Murrison (Westbury) and Graham Stuart (Beverley & Holderness) and the DUP's Nigel Dodds (Belfast North).

1153 The proposal to offer 12,000 to each of those killed during Northern Ireland's Troubles could also prompt questions for the prime minister.

1152 Hello and welcome to our live text coverage of prime minister's questions from the House of Commons. As usual, there is plenty going on for Gordon Brown to debate with Tory leader David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. We will have expert analysis from my colleague, political correspondent Jo Coburn, while former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and ex-Labour Lords leader Baroness Jay will offer their insights, via BBC Two's Daily Politics.


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