Cameron accuses Brown of “climbdown”

Posted on November 1, 2009

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David Cameron used Prime Minister’s question time to accuse Gordon Brown of a “humiliating climbdown” over plans to cut £20 million from the training budget of the Territorial Army.

He also challenged Brown’s assertions over Britain’s economic recovery, urging the prime minister to “finally admit that he did not end boom and bust”.

Brown hit back at the Conservative leader’s claims that spending on army training was being cut at a time on war, saying: “I have to tell the Right Honourable Gentleman that we are spending £1 billion more on Afghanistan and £1 billion more on defence. It is wrong for him to say that we are not spending sufficiently on defence. We are.”

Cameron, however, accused Brown of dishonesty and asked: “Why does this Prime Minister keep getting it wrong?”

He said: “Honestly, this Prime Minister cannot even be straight and straightforward when he is performing a U-turn. He cannot get away from the fact that he was proposing cuts in basic training that would have meant cuts in the TA, and if you cut by that amount, you cannot fight a war.”

The Prime Minister was also forced to defend his economic policies. He said: “We always said that we would come out of recession by the end of this year. That has been the position that the Chancellor took in his Budget, and the position that we consistently took.”

When questioned by Cameron over the fact that the economies of France, Germany and Japan have now been growing for six months, he pointed to deeper recessions in those countries.

He reiterated that Britain was well-placed to exit recession and would do so by the end of the year, before remarking disparagingly on the economic policies of Cameron’s Conservatives.

He said: “His policies would mean more unemployment, because he will not support the new deal, more small businesses going under—we have supported 200,000 small businesses—and more home owners losing their homes. That is the policy of the Conservative party. He cannot deny that he got every aspect of this recession wrong.”

Cameron continued to insist that the Prime Minister had made serious errors when dealing with the economy, saying: “What he said about the recession was wrong; what he said about the recovery was wrong; what he said about being well prepared was wrong; what he said about boom and bust was wrong. Does he not understand that unless he is straight with people about how we got into this mess, no one will trust him to get us out of it?”

Brown also had to defend his record on climate change in response to questions from Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, saying that Britain was “fighting hardest to get an agreement in Copenhagen” in December.

He called on Clegg and the Liberal Democrats to support nuclear energy: “I think that his own position would be a lot stronger if he could say that he would support nuclear energy, which is one of the means by which we can reduce carbon emissions.”

In response to questions from other MPs, the Prime Minister condemned the Conservative party for “isolating itself from the centre of Europe” through its alliances with “extremist” groups. He also reiterated his support for Tony Blair as President of the European Union, should such a position be created, and said there would be a statement next week on Sir Christopher Kelly’s report on MPs’ expenses.

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Posted in: Politics