Peter Hoskin

PMQs live blog | 21 January 2009

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Welcome to Coffee House's live blog of PMQs today.  As always, things will kick off at 1200, so stay tuned from then.

1204: Here's the Dear Leader.  After condolences, he gives a welcome to President Obama: "The stress that President Obama places on action..." First question from Douglas Carswell, and it's an important one: "Why is the PM whipping his MPs when it comes to revealing details of MPs' expenses."  Brown claims that the Government wants to introduce more transparency - or trans-pair-ancy, as he puts it.

1207: Brown: Holocaust Memorial Day will be commemorated by a debate in the House next Thursday.

1208: Cameron's up now.  Echoes Brown's good wishes for Obama.  Then leads on today's grim economic stats.  "Does the PM recognise that the public and the markets have no confidence in his measures..."  Surprise, surprise; Brown mentions Obama in his response, saying that he's following the British fiscal stimulus plan.  Brown: "Obama didn't say: 'My fellow Americans, let's do nothing.'"  

1210: Good retort from Cameron.  Says Obama won't be putting up national insurance contributions. 

1211: Cameron asks whether the Govenrment knows how many toxic debts it will have to insure.

1212: Knockabout stuff.  Brown refers to Ken Clarke as Cameron's "shadow shadow Chancellor".  Cameron says "the recession's getting worse".

1213: Cameron on the difference between Clarke and Brown: "[Clarke] left a golden legacy, [Brown] wrecked it"  Brown responds by bringing up Clarke's views on Europe.  This is all very Mandelsonian.

1216: Cameron asks Brown to confirm how much has been lost on RBS.  Typically, Brown doesn't answer the question. Wades into a diatribe about how every country in the world "disagrees" with Cameron...

1217: Cameron: "The Prime Minister talks about being isolated, but the fact is that only the Prime Minister thinks he's doing a good job."  Repeats the same question about RBS - it's "simple maths" as Cameron says.  Brown again dodges the question.

1219: Cameron's scoring some blows now - courtesy of optimistic prognoses from Labour ministers.  Brown's response is to say that Cameron "doesn't know what he's doing".  Brown is really quite animated today.

1221: Brown: "We are leading the world in the sanctions against Iran,"

1221: Clegg now.  Another welcome for Obama.  Good opening line aimed at Brown: "Mr Speaker, the British economy is now standing on the edge of a cliff."  Goes on to ask whether Brown's measures are causing more fear and instability.  Brown: "real help ... families ... action ... do-nothing Tories ...." etc. etc.

1224: Clegg asks whether "our weakest banks" should be fully nationalised.  Brown says that lending is the main problem, "whatever the status of the banks".

1225: Bankbench questions on Obama and expenses.

1227: Dennis Skinner asks: "What action is going to be taken against those bankers who have run their banks into the ground.  Those Tory fat cats at the banks - represented by the party over there..."  Beyond parody.  Brown responds by talking about "global action".

1230: Brown: "The best way we can isolate Iran in the Middle East is by reaching an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians..."

1233: More Obama references from Brown:  "President Obama - and many more around the world - will introduce public investment programmes."

1235: That's it.  My verdict shortly.

VERDICT: Brown won out today - just.  Sure, Cameron asked some important questions - and Brown did his usually trick of not answering them - but the PM was unusually punchy and light on his feet.  After some great performances at the end of last year, Nick Clegg is fast becoming invisible again.