VERDICT: Ed Miliband repeated the same tactic as last week, concentrating on a specific policy area to test Cameron’s command of the details — and again it had the desired effect, although not quite so tellingly as before. The Prime Minister floundered and generalised on the issue of rape arrests, but managed to turn some of his discomfort back on the Labour leader, and ended their exchange sounding more confident than perhaps he was. He was then consideraby more surefooted throughout the backbench questions, particularly when it came to public sector pensions and to attacking Labour’s unfunded VAT cut. But, on the whole, this was another session to relieve the pressure on Miliband.
1235: And so another session of PMQs ends. My brief verdict coming up shortly.
1233: A well-briefed answer from Cameron, in response to Labour’s Luciana Berger. “Can the Prime Minister promise that his MEPs will support the 30 per cent target [for carbon reduction]?” she urges. To which Cameron replies that “I’ll work on my MEPs, if you work on yours,” before listing some of the measures that Labour MEPs have voted for and against — including, for an increase in the EU bugdet, and against a proposal to end first-class flights to MEPs.
1232: Answering a question about co-operative in Rochdale, Cameron suggests that he would like to visit the area, “but I’m aware of what can happen to Prime Ministers in Rochale.” A nice reference to Brown’s grim encounter with Gillian Duffy.
1229: Cameron declines — laughing as he does so — to sack Cheryl Gillan at Labour’s insistence.
1227: The Prime Minister takes the opportunity, again, to pin blame for our involement in EuroBailouts on to Labour. He says that the coalition government has “fought” to ensure that we’re not wrapped up in the European Financial Stability Mechanism after 2013.