This week’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) was, even by the admission of the two leaders, the battle between the parrot and the weasel. Miliband spent the whole parroting the same question, whilst Cameron’s weaselled his way out of being clear on Europe.
Proceedings kicked off with the party leaders offering their condolences to military families ahead of Remembrance Sunday this weekend. We were reminded this is the first one since the full withdrawal from Afghanistan, and 100 years after the start of WWI. Following that brief moment of unanimity, it was back to the usual weekly knockabout.
Miliband kicked off by asking how many countries were now allied to Cameron’s reform plans two years into his renegotiation. Weasel Cameron sidestepped the question by accusing Miliband of having “no plan” and being “freighted” of giving the British people an in/out referendum.
In his second question Miliband pointed out that Cameron had previously stated his admiration for Angela Merkel, joking that her recent comments has shown the feeling was mutual. He then asked if Cameron could ever hope to the reform the EU when the German Chancellor has already rejected his plan. Once again Cameron claimed Miliband was too frightened of the British people to offer a vote. For some reason at this point I was reminded that the British weasel is related to the European Mink… Not sure why…
Miliband then taunted Cameron by quoting John Baron (Con, Basildon and Billericay) whom he described as having “not defected, yet”. He went on to ask Cameron to repeat his words from a few years ago that he would never campaign for an out vote on the EU.
The Prime Minister weaselled out by quoting Thomas Docherty (Lab, Dunfermline and West Fife) who described the Labour as having “low esteem with the electorate” and of being a “moribund party”. Cameron pointed out that Baron was a backbencher, whereas Docherty was a shadow minister proving Miliband was a “dead parrot”.
Undaunted by the ornithological gag Miliband parroted the same question: would Cameron repeat the words of a few years ago and confirm he would never campaign to leave the EU? Cameron once again tried to weasel his way out by claiming he’d already answered. He suggested that saying he was in favour of “staying in a reformed Europe” was a full answer, very weaselly.
The Prime Minister than stuck to the theme of birds by suggesting Miliband’s party were too “chicken” to ever offer the British people a referendum. He pushed on saying Miliband “daren’t say yes, and daren’t say no” to a European Referendum.
Cameron then went on to attack the Labour leader for being reprimanded by the former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott who said Ed could not communication in English. This caused riotous laughter as Prescott was so famous for his poor use of English some of his most hilariously bad phrases were put together into a book. The Conservative benches begged for more, but we still didn’t have the answer to whether Cameron would ever campaign to leave the EU. He had weaselled out of Ed’s question, despite him repeating it parrot-fashion multiple times.
Backbench contributions came from Ian Paisley (DUP, North Antrim) who once again repeated his anger that the Callagher cigarette factory in his constituency was closing at a cost of 900 jobs. Eric Ollerenshaw (Con, Lancaster and Fleetwood) who asked for more work to be done to curb pancreatic cancer and Andrew Lansley (Con, South Cambridgeshire) whose constituency was home to the Libyan soldiers accused of raping a man.
Overall: The weasel is stronger and more cunning than the parrot, even if the later is more effective at making noise. I would always bet on the weasel to win, but can he ever be trusted?
Clarity on European Reform: -32124