GIMSON Andrew Krieg

Amal Clooney came to PMQs and stole the show. She sat in the gallery opposite David Cameron, wearing a white suit and looking very cool and self-possessed, but not at all stand-offish. On several occasions she gazed towards the press gallery, which is not something a stand-offish person would do.

Harriet Harman tried to be stand-offish towards David Cameron. In her best grande dame manner she told him: “Now I know he doesn’t have to budget but many families do.”

Do the Clooneys have to budget? They had what looked like an appallingly expensive wedding in Venice, involving profligate use of water taxis. But perhaps that was paid for by someone else.

Cameron tried to change the subject. He said Labour had failed to budget for the whole country. The House became excited. Mrs Clooney seemed to be enjoying herself, for she leaned forward and gave a smile.

It occurred to some of us that the House would have become more excited if Ed Balls were still a member of it. He would have heckled like a demented football hooligan in defence of tax credits, that vast and debilitating system of largesse introduced by Gordon Brown and himself.

Parliamentary life without Balls is more decorous, and for the Prime Minister more comfortable. But it has also lost something in animation.

George Osborne looked solemn, and from time to time offered a word of advice to Cameron. The Chancellor now has the task of budgeting for the whole country, and according to Harman, his measures are sure to leave some low-earning families worse off.

But will Osborne ever have a better chance to demolish the Brown edifice? And here was the Prime Minister, talking about “the week when Greece teeters on the brink”, and saying that is where we’ll find ourselves if we don’t get a grip on things.

Harman’s assault was over. Cameron dismissed what she said as “the same old Labour” which will lead to the same old failure. But this column admires Harman’s courage and her sense of decency, and continues to maintain that she would make a better leader of the Labour Party than any of the candidates who have actually applied for that post.

Boris Johnson was standing at the far end of the Chamber, about as far away from the Prime Minister as he could be. Labour is not doing nearly well enough for there to be any pressing demand for the Mayor of London to step forward and rescue the Conservative Party.

To put the matter bluntly, Ed Miliband has let the Mayor down. Johnson exchanged genial remarks with the MPs next to him, but as the session drifted to its close, began somewhat glumly to stroke his chin.

Far too many backbenchers were asking clumsy questions about bypasses, and Mrs Clooney had slipped away to lunch.

13 comments for: Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch: Harman accuses Cameron of not having to budget

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