This was the last PMQs before the recess, and the Tory side of the House was in an end of term mood. When Harriet Harman stood up, the Tory benches enthusiastically beckoned her over — a reference to the anger in Labour circles at her openness to Tory plans to limit child tax credits to two children for new claimants.
But Harman turned in a decent performance in her penultimate PMQs outing. She asked Cameron about the Greek crisis and drew some rather loose-lipped talk from him about how if Greece left the Euro, the UK would be prepared to assist with humanitarian aid. I suspect this answer won’t have gone down too well in Brussels, but given some of the other things being said by European leaders at the moment I suspect it won’t cause as much irritation as it would have done a month ago.
Harman then moved on to the Budget where they sparred over the figures, in a relatively even exchange. But when Harman asked about changes to the rules governing Union funding, Cameron had the opportunity he wanted to let rip with his anti-Labour attack lines.
The SNP’s Angus Robertson used his two questions to ask about rape victims and the limit on the number of children you can claim tax credits for. But, as Robertson acknowledged, the Budget specifically says that rape victims will be protected from these changes.
As the session, went on, Cameron — keen to send his troops home happy for holidays — delivered more and more anti-Labour lines. He mocked Labour for voting against the national living wage in the Budget, saying ‘put that on your leaflets’. He attacked the ‘Labour way: take the easy way out, duck the difficult decisions, and then you can’t pay.’ Finally, he responded to a question about why wages were still lower than they had been seven years ago by saying, ‘Ask Gordon’ to the delight of the Tory benches.
As MPs shuffled out of the chamber with John Bercow making a self-congratulatory statement about the opening of a new education centre, it was striking how much happier Tory MPs looked than their Labour opposite numbers. There’s little doubt about which set of MPs will enjoy their summer holidays more.