James Forsyth James Forsyth

A beating, but not as harsh as it might have been

PMQs today was a taste for David Cameron of what he will have to face over the coming weeks as the scandal surrounding the News of the World continues to grow. Ed Miliband asked him whether he agreed that Rebekah Brooks — a friend of Cameron’s —should resign and then mocked him when he wouldn’t answer. The Labour leader than pushed him on whether News International should be stopped from taking over BSkyB and derided him when he said the matter was out of his hands. Finally, he slammed him for his decision to bring Andy Coulson — who had resigned as editor of the News of the World because of the phone hacking scandal — into Downing Street.

As each blow hit, there was little the Prime Minister could do. He is penned in by his own decisions and his office, he really can’t do much about the BSkyB matter. The ill-advised flash of anger when he told Ben Bradshaw, the gay former culture secretary, that ‘he’d look pretty for a day but useless for a week’ summed up Cameron’s frustration.

It was, though, not as bad for Cameron as it could have been. His decision to agree that there should be inquiries into the matter and that parts of them could begin before the police inquiry is concluded shielded him to an extent. Miliband also made a mistake by only asking about Coulson in his sixth question, denying himself the chance of a follow up. Labour backbenchers also didn’t hit the targets of opportunity there were with Cameron only being asked about the matter in the final question of the session.

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