Could you live on £53 a week? How Cameron and Osborne responded

Iain Duncan Smith's cabinet colleagues have chosen not to match his boast that he could live on £53 a week.

Iain Duncan Smith's declaration on yesterday's Today programme that he could live on £53 a week ("If I had to, I would") has inevitably prompted journalists to ask his ministerial colleagues whether they could match the Work and Pensions Secretary's frugality. Below is how they've so far responded; I'll update the list as more answers come in. In the meantime, the petition urging IDS to "prove his claim" has now garnered 218,030 signatures. 

Iain Duncan Smith

"If I had to, I would."

David Cameron

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister, like the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, feels that benefit levels are fair."

George Osborne

"I don’t think it's sensible to reduce this to a debate about one individual's personal circumstances. This debate is not about any individual."

Greg Clark (Financial Secretary to the Treasury)

"I think it’s an incredible struggle to do that and I think any MP, anyone earning the comfortable wage that an MP has would certainly struggle.

"I think the context is this – we’re all having to tighten our belts…right across the board there are difficult choices to be made, it is an incredibly difficult situation."

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said if he "had to" live on £53 a week he "would". Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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En français, s'il vous plaît! EU lead negotiator wants to talk Brexit in French

C'est très difficile. 

In November 2015, after the Paris attacks, Theresa May said: "Nous sommes solidaires avec vous, nous sommes tous ensemble." ("We are in solidarity with you, we are all together.")

But now the Prime Minister might have to brush up her French and take it to a much higher level.

Reuters reports the EU's lead Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, would like to hold the talks in French, not English (an EU spokeswoman said no official language had been agreed). 

As for the Home office? Aucun commentaire.

But on Twitter, British social media users are finding it all très amusant.

In the UK, foreign language teaching has suffered from years of neglect. The government may regret this now . . .

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.