Lloyd Evans Lloyd Evans

PMQs sketch: No poppy for Harman, Miliband on the attack, Cameron in transcendental-parrot mode

Was that a pop at Hattie? Ed Miliband began PMQs by evoking the centenary of the Great War.

‘We will all be wearing our poppies with particular pride this year,’ he said.

And every eye ran along Labour’s front bench to count off the crimson blooms. Balls, poppy. Miliband poppy. Harman, poppy.

No, wait. As you were. Harman, no poppy! Her chic, double-breasted grey jacket bore no tribute to the fallen. But I expect it’s a CND thing. All the same, Miliband should send her out to buy one. Tuppence ought to do it.

The Labour leader needed a win today. Badly. His poll ratings have dipped to the same level as Gordon Brown’s in 2010, but at least Brown had the excuse of being in a fag-end administration led by a scowling narcissistic tax-junkie. Miliband isn’t even in Downing Street yet. To rouse his wilting troops he wanted to shine ‘like hope’s brightest beacon’. His plan was good, but risky, because the chosen ground was Europe.

In a newspaper interview two years ago Cameron declared that he would ‘never countenance leaving the EU.’

What’s his position today? asked Miliband

‘I want Britain to stay in a reformed EU,’ said Cameron. Three times. Because Miliband pushed him on it. And he refused to repeat the ‘no exit’ formula.

Gotcha! Shifty Cameron had been forced perform a public U-turn on one of his core beliefs. So Miliband registered his win. Or did he?

Miliband’s attack reinforces Cameron’s position as the only decision-maker who counts, (while leaving Miliband himself on the fringes). And it tells sceptics that the PM may one day sidle up to the Brexit team and give them a big fat UKIP hug.

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