EDITORIAL VERDICT: "Emphatic victory for David Cameron. He talked about the big issues of the week – Northern Rock and economic weakness. He made the Prime Minister look evasive because he failed to answer questions about taxpayer exposure. Nick Clegg even helped the Conservatives by implying that Brown hadn’t nationalised the Rock because he was running scared of the Tories. Who’s the real opposition now then, Mr Clegg?"
Highlights, not verbatim:
12.17pm: In response to a question from Ken Clarke Gordon Brown states that he inherited "very difficult" economic circustances from him! The Tory benches erupt into laughter.
12.13pm: Nick Clegg accuses Gordon Brown of fleecing the taxpayer by privatising the profits but nationalising the risks. He says that Brown is running scared of the Conservative Party by not pursuing the short-term nationalisation of Northern Rock – the only sensible option. Brown says that nationalisation is an option but the Government is determined to do the best for all those involved, including the shareholders and depositors of Northern Rock – as well as the taxpayer.
12.10pm: David Cameron challenges Brown to admit he was wrong to fly to China on a jet plane with one of the principal bidders for Northern Rock, Richard Branson. He says that Britain enters a difficult economic period with the biggest budget deficit in Europe. The Prime Minister is a ditherer who hasn’t prepared Britain for difficult times.
12.08pm: Gordon Brown accuses David Cameron of wanting a fire sale of Northern Rock’s assets by supporting administration. David Cameron replied by saying that the Prime Minister doesn’t know the difference between administration and liquidation. Cameron compares Labour to now being in administration. After the next election it will be in liquidation.
12.06pm: David Cameron compares the Prime Minister to Del Boy. He’s like a used car salesman who won’t tell the purchaser about the car’s price, mileage or warranty. This is a subprime deal from a sub-Prime Minister.
12.05pm: Gordon Brown says that the spending is secured on Northern Rock’s good asset book and accuses the Conservatives of inconsistencies.
12.03pm: David Cameron asks about the taxpayers’ total exposure to Northern Rock. Is it £55bn, he asks? Every taxpayer in the country has been landed with a second mortgage.
12.01pm: Good opening question from Stephen Crabb about the Home Secretary needing an armed escort to go and buy a kebab.
11.40am: David Cameron must surely focus on the economy and contrast the hyperactivity on the other side of the Atlantic with the inactivity here? Although there’s always the retreat on ID cards.