Peter Hoskin

PMQs live blog | 4 February 2009

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Stay tuned from 1200 for live coverage of PMQs.

1204: And we're off.  First question from Karen Buck, on rising fuel bills.  Asks Brown what further steps he will take to protect pensioners during the winter.  An opportunity for Brown to mention the Winter Fuel Allowance

1206: Here's Cameron.  Leads by aksing whether a "retreat into protectionism" is the last thing the world needs.  Brown responds that he's made it clear that such a retreat is "the biggest danger" to the world economy.  Slightly odd question from Cameron - allows Brown to mention "global action" and the G20. 

1208: Cameron highlights the need to get India and China to make concessions in the Doha trade talks at the G20 summit.

1209: Ah, here's the nub of it.  Cameron suggests that Brown is encouraging "protectionist sentiment" via his "British jobs for British workers" claim.

1211: Shamless repsonse from Brown.  "Can anyone in the House claim that they don't want British workers to get the training they need to get jobs?" he exclaims, before retreating into the regular shtick about "investment" and "do nothing" Tories.  Brown looks rattled.

1212: Cameron: "Doesn't the PM realise he's taking people for fools again."

1214: This is effective stuff from Cameron.  He's pointing out Labour backbenchers "embarrassed" by Brown's BJ4BW statement.

1215: Cameron: "Let me ask the PM: wasn't using that phrase a massive error of judgement?  And will he commit to not using it again?"  Brown: "The biggest error of judgement is to not do anything..."  Same old, same old.

1217:
Clegg leads on tax evasion, which Vince Cable wrote about in the Guardian yesterday.  Brown waffles in response.

1219: Clegg: "The PM set up the regulatory system ... he's losing the country £billions a year".  Brown responds by pointing out that certain Lib Dem donors have been tax evaders.

1221: Backbench questions on job losses, mortgage lending and the 'South East Plan'.

1224: Brown, answering a question on Labour's poll ratings: "The answer to the problems we have today is not to do nothing, as the Conservatives would."  Funny how that answer can be used for any question....

1227: Brown: "Of course we are now looking at the powers and responsibilities of the FSA for the future."

1230: Backbench questions on Gaza and on how supermarkets deal with their suppliers.  Brown says he's written to Ehud Olmert, urging him to get crossings into Gaza open. 

1233: Planted question on public transport "investment" - "another reason to vote Labour at every possible opportunity"...

1235: Brown: "I am very happy to work with all parties to introdice the fiscal stimulus that is necessary ... I regret that the Tories won't change their position on this." 

1236: That's it.  Verdict coming up in a minute.

PMQs VERDICT:  Cameron was very impressive today; managing to embarrass Brown over the "British jobs for British workers" claim, while also avoiding any of the pitfalls that surround the issue.  Brown's stock responses were even less up to the occasion than usual, and the despodency of the Labour backbenchers was palpable.  Another disappointing performance from Nick Clegg, who seems to have been playing the dummy to Vince Cable's ventriloquist over the past few weeks.

UPDATE:
As David Blackburn points out below, I missed a fairly significant slip from Brown, when he referred to a "global depression".  Details from Nick Assinder here.