'In office but not in power': Queen's Speech triggers brutal Miliband/Cameron spat

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Miliband vs Cameron: Rhetoric heats up in aftermath of Queen's Speech
Miliband vs Cameron: Rhetoric heats up in aftermath of Queen's Speech

The Queen's Speech debate has seen Ed Miliband and David Cameron issue some of their harshest ever attacks on each other, after the Labour leader told the prime minister he was "in office but not in power".

Cameron retorted by branding the Labour leader too weak to take control of his own shadow chancellor.

"The leader of the opposition tried to make his case in the World at One and I think we can agree that the world was at one that he made a hash of it," the prime minister told the Commons.

The comment was a reference to a bruising radio interview last week in which Miliband would not say whether his plan to cut VAT would lead to a short-term rise in borrowing.


"In this case, his policy lasted about 18 hours," Cameron added.

The prime minister said the Labour leader was too weak to stand up to Gordon Brown when he was in government and that he continued to avoid confrontation in opposition.

"Too weak to stand up to his shadow chancellor and too weak to stand up against welfare," Cameron said.

"He is the living embodiment of a new dictum: 'the weak are a long time in politics'."

The prime minister then tore into shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, who is alleged to have altered his Wikipedia entry to add a description of himself as a 'British Obama'.

"We have an opposition that thinks borrowing is too high so they're going to put it up. You couldn't make it up," Cameron said.

"Well you could if you're the shadow business secretary. He's been comparing himself to Barack Obama.

"As he would put it: 'Can we change our Wikipedia entry? Yes we can.'"

Cameron's harsh attacks won support from his own benches, but Miliband had a good outing painting the Queen's Speech as prime evidence of a governing party increasingly obsessed with the threat from Ukip.

"He can't provide the answers the country needs because he's lost control of his party," Miliband told the Commons.

"He's in office but not in power.

"The government doesn't have a communications problem. It has a reality problem," he added.

Miliband then turned his fire on Tory backbenchers' calls for Ukip to be invited into a pact or even given a role in government, as demanded by Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

"What is their party spending time talking about? The one subject they're obsessing about day in day out? Europe and Ukip," Miliband said.

"They used to call them clowns. Now they want to join the circus.

"The whole point of the prime minister's speech in January was to head off Ukip.

"The lesson for the prime minister is you can't out-Farage Farage. Banging on about Europe won't convince the public."

The Labour leader then suggested Cameron was so distracted trying to fight off rebellions in his party that he was failing to fix the problems of the country.

"The people behind him will keep coming back for more," Miliband said, referring to Conservative backbenchers.

"Every day he spends dealing with the problems behind him, he's not dealing with the problems of the country."

Today saw the monarch present the coalition's penultimate Queen's Speech before the 2015 general election.

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