James Forsyth

Both leaders left smiling after PMQs

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Today was one of those PMQs when you sensed that both sides were fairly happy with how it had gone. Ed Miliband turned in one of his stronger performances, cleverly splitting his questions and so allowing himself to have a go at both the economy and the coalition’s troubled NHS reforms. Cameron, for his part, got through what was always going to be a difficult session for him after this morning’s negative growth numbers.

 

Strikingly, there were four planted Tory questions on the benefits cap. The Tories know that Labour’s vote against it compounds one of their biggest vulnerabilities, the sense they are the party for people on benefits and not those in work. Interestingly, two of the questions were phrased in terms of what people in Lancashire would think about the cap; a sure sign that the Tories see this as a way to split the Labour leadership from part of its northern support.

 

But PMQs did preview one coming problem for the Tory leader. The Tory grandee Sir Peter Tapsell protested that any extra money to the IMF would be an effective subsidy to Germany who is not supporting the euro fully while benefitting from what a weak currency does for its exports.