The Sketch: More like a punch-up in the pub than the dance before the Battle of Waterloo

Simon Carr
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The Independent Online

The modern world may be coming to an end with a Greek default and a euro-implosion dragging the world's monetary system into it as a precursor to World War Three. Meanwhile in the House of Commons...

When Cameron stood up his side went "Yairrrrrr" and the opposition went "Wurrrggghhh" and then the Tories went "Bonjour!" and "'Allo, 'allo!" and hummed the Marseillaise, at which Labour started pointing and jeering, which made Tories go "Hahahaha!"

It's a little less than Corinthian. Let me translate.

The Speaker called: "The Prime Minister!" His party, keen to show solidarity in the aftermath of Monday's Referendum Rebellion stirred themselves to sound supportive. The Opposition expressed scepticism at the sincerity of the support and suggested there was something artificial about it. The Tories demonstrated that their rebellion was less than a split party "tearing itself to pieces" and more a good-humoured disagreement between ideologically aligned colleagues. Their opponents leapt on the apparent disloyalty of the hummed French national anthem only to amuse the Conservatives who felt Labour hadn't got the joke.

It would be nice to compare it to the dance before the Battle of Waterloo. But in truth it was a punch-up in a pub between the marketing manager and the sales director. Miliband flailed away. His first question quiet, reasonable, only slightly adenoidal. But then he worked himself up and allowed his face to come out to play. That's always a mistake, his features playing ring-a-roses as he tries to get his thoughts in the right order. His back bench sat it out in muffled embarrassment.

Cameron jabbed back. The Opposition Leader was "a complete mug" and his party – "what a complete bunch of hypocrites".

That sort of language doesn't go down well with the sceptics, incidentally. They feel their leader is taking it all too casually. Like offering a "cast-iron guarantee". Or preparing for the budget negotiations saying he had to sharpen his pencil. It doesn't indicate proper deadly intent.

Surely this is the most important thing in the world just now and Parliament doesn't really have a way of getting at it. Don't they need a mechanism, as Andrew Tyrie has suggested, to convene a cut-down version of the Liaison Committee with the power to summon the PM and get proper answers out of him?

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