Peter Hoskin

PMQs live blog | 11 February 2009

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Stay tuned for live coverage of PMQs from 1200 onwards.

1203: A breaking news item worth mentioning: Gordon Brown's buddy, James Crosby, has resigned his role at the FSA.

1204: Here's Brown now.  He faces a question on Crosby, and responds: "It's right that James Crosby resigned his role."

1205: Cameron now.  "They can even plant questions at short notice".  He leads on Crosby too.  "Does the PM accept that it was a serious error of judegment on his part to appoint [Crosby] in the first place."  On the offensive from the off.  Brown responds by citing a KPMG report.

1208: I bet Brown's wishing Crosby had resigned half-an-hour later.  Cameron brings up the issue of the banker's knighthood.  Brown says Crosby is no longer an economic adviser for the Government.

1209: Cameron: "Why can't the PM ever admit an error of judgement" .  Tory MPs are taunting Brown with cries of "Sorry!"

1210: This is fiery stuff.  Brown's getting red-faced over the "do nothing" Tories.

1211: This is surely going to guarantee Cameron some airtime later.  He pins a serious of charges on Brown, including "Who set up the failed regulatory system - he did!"  The Tory benches are loving this.  Labour MPs look sheepish.

1214: Brown on the VAT cut: "The Tories are opposing a measure that would see families have £20 a month more in their pocket."

1215: Cameron responds to Brown's shadow shadow Chancellor jibe, by pointing out that Ken Clarke voted against the VAT cut: "Why can't the PM get his facts straight?"

1215: Cameron: "Incompetence + arrogance =  2 million unemployed".  Hard-hitting attack line.

1216: Brown hits back over regulation, quoting Cameron calling him the "Great Regulator".  The implication being that Cameron wants less regulation.  Given the Crosby resignation, I'm not sure Brown will get much out of this attack.

1218: Clegg's on the offensive too, aksing what - despite all the government announcements - Brown has actually achieved.  Brown responds with the usual waffle about global problems etc.

1220: Backbench questions now.  Brown on bonuses: "We know there are thousands of bankers who rely on their bonuses, but we've also got to look out for the public..."

1222: Planted question on what Brown will do to safeguard jobs in the North East.  Allows him to mention a meeting of the National Employment Panel this morning.

"Does the PM think that the [public transport problems] in London [during the snow] were down to an act of God or down to Boris Johnson?".  Predictably, Brown bangs on about Tory cuts: "This is what the public can expect from a Tory government..." 

1228: Questions on injured soldiers, medium-sized business and renewable energy.

1231: Brown: "It's time to invest in the future ... we are investing in appreticeships."  He repeats a Balls-created Brownie that the Tories would cut apprenticeships.

1233: Given the controversy over Heathrow, Brown's jibe that the Tories seem "completely disinterested in the environment now" will raise a few eyebrows.

1234: Questions on prisons and non-EU immigration.  Brown brings up the points system.

1235: And that's it.  Expect my verdict shortly.

VERDICT: Oh, how Brown must have rued the resignation of Sir James Crosby just before PMQs started.  It gave Cameron the perfect lead-off, and the Tory leader made a good hand of it.  There was a real sense that Dave was holding Gordon to account today, and he did so with vim and vigour.  The fiery session left Brown looking battered.

UPDATE: As golfwidow mentions below, Nick Robinson's reporting that Downing St may have intentionally arranged James Crosby's resignation for before PMQs.  If so, you can see their thinking: that it would wrongfoot Cameron and deflect "Why is he still in his job?" type questions.  But, to my mind, it didn't play out like that.  Cameron used the resignation to make Brown's association with Crosby look even more questionable.