Page last updated at 13:31 GMT, Wednesday, 31 October 2012

PMQs: Cameron and Miliband clash over EU budget

Prime Minister David Cameron has accused Labour of "playing politics" with the EU budget after opposition leader Ed Miliband demanded to know why the PM would not support a Commons motion to cut it in real terms.

As the prime minister returned to the despatch box for his weekly question session from MPs on 31 October 2012, he told MPs that "at best we would like [the EU budget] cut; at worst frozen".

MPs were scheduled to debate the EU's long-term budget, or "multi-annual financial framework", just over three hours after the PM's question session, including an amendment tabled by Conservative backbenchers explicitly calling for a real-terms cut.

Mr Miliband said the amendment would give Mr Cameron a mandate to press for a cut at forthcoming negotiations with his fellow EU leaders on the budget.

"Why is he resisting that opportunity?" he asked.

"At a time when he is cutting the education budget by 11%, the transport budget by 15% and the police budget by 20%, how can he even be giving up on a cut in the EU budget before the negotiations have begun?"

Mr Miliband said Mr Cameron was "weak abroad and weak at home", comparing him to former PM Sir John Major.

But Mr Cameron promised to take the toughest stance of any British government in the negotiations.

The Labour leader was guilty of "opportunism" and "playing politics, not serving the country", he alleged.

"People haven't forgotten the fact that they [Labour] gave away half our rebate in one negotiation, that they agreed a massive increase to the EU budget under their government," Mr Cameron said.

Later in the question session, Mr Cameron denied there was a rift within the coalition over its policy on renewable energy.

Conservative MP and Energy Minister John Hayes has reportedly announced there would be no further expansion of onshore wind developments, but Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey later insisted this was not the case.

Mr Cameron told the Commons: "There has been no change towards renewable energy.

"We have got a big pipeline of onshore and offshore wind projects that are coming through, but frankly all parties are going to have to have a debate in this House and outside this House about what happens when those targets are met."

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