George Osborne welcomes Ed Miliband back to the Commons: 'I don't think anyone ever doubted your personal integrity'

The Chancellor was speaking after a Tory campaign that constantly questioned Mr Miliband's character

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The Independent Online

Just weeks after the Conservative Party said Ed Miliband was prepared "to stab the United Kingdom in the back to become prime minister" just like he "stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labour leader", George Osborne has said that no one "ever doubted his personal integrity" in a speech in the House of Commons.

The Chancellor's words seem staggeringly hypocritical after he and many other senior Tory figures refused to denounce Michael Fallon's remarks about Mr Miliband betraying his brother and accusing the former Labour leader of wanting to assume power through whatever means.

With Mr Miliband returning to the Commons as a backbencher, Mr Osborne said, "Sincerely, it is very good the former leader of the Labour party here. I think he earns the respect of everyone that he has come to this house so soon after the election defeat.

"Whatever the fierce argument of the general election, I don't think anyone ever doubted his personal integrity or the conviction with which he made his argument and it is good to see him back in the chamber."

Mr Miliband clearly appreciated the praise from Mr Osborne, yet the Chancellor's words must be difficult to swallow after a Tory campaign that left the former Labour leader's wife, Justine, upset about the "nasty" and "brutal" attacks on her husband's character.

Mr Osborne may now praise Mr Miliband's integrity but during the general election campaign he mocked him for not being strong enough to be prime minister.

Mr Osborne said back then: "I was listening to Ed Miliband, with all that legendary statesmanship of his, saying: 'Hell, yeah, I’ll be a leader!'"

Mr Cameron meanwhile called Mr Miliband a "hypocrite" incapable of "facing down our enemies abroad", adding that Mr Miliband and his chums were simply "sneering Hampstead socialists".

When Mr Cameron was criticised about personal attacks on Mr Miliband's character, he replied: "Some might say 'don't make this personal', but when it comes to who's Prime Minister, the personal is national."