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  1. Politics
1 July 2009

PMQ’s review: Brown’s strategy becomes clearer

PM rallies as he attacks the Tories as the "party of unemployment" but Cameron remains sharper.

By James Macintyre

Gordon Brown made a second half comeback today during yet another tit-for-tat Prime Minister’s Questions exchange on public spending.

Brown caused laughter on the Tory benches after outlining rises in “current spending” which included “0 per cent” in 2013-14. Cameron replied: “that answer gets 0 per cent”.

But the initial set-back was redressed when Brown accused George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, of seeking to “cut schools now, cut Sure Start now and cut the September guarantee now”.

Brown seized on an assertion by Cameron that “sadly unemployment will rise,” declaring that “we have today come to the heart of what (the Tories) are about: they are the party of unemployment”.

The Tory leader joked that “the only person we want to add to the unemployment register is the Prime Minister”.

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Cameron, who said Brown’s performance “was one of the most feeble” he’d seen, claimed that Brown’s exposure of the Tory plans for ten per cent cuts across the board, with the exception of the NHS, would only harm the Prime Minister. “It’s not doing damage to us”, Cameron said, to cheers from Labour MPs who thought the Tory leader sounded complacent.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, questioned why Brown was pressing ahead with Trident renewal contracts. Brown accused Clegg of having no alternative to his plans for tackling the economy.

Labour MPs were quieter than their Tory counterparts during the exchanges, in which Cameron was sharper, more articulate and vicious. Brown’s support appears to remain fragile. But the Prime Minister alighted on another potentially damaging line against the Opposition today: the Tories as the party of unemployment. Brown is clearly not going anywhere, and his election strategy is becoming clearer.

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