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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Balls & Osborne in vicious Commons clash

The banking inquiry debate got off to an explosive start with a vicious clash between Chancellor George Osborne and the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls. Mr Balls was absolutely apoplectic with rage after Mr Osborne told the Spectator that "My opposite number was the City Minister for part of this period and Gordon Brown’s right-hand man for all of it. So he has ­questions to answer as well. That’s Ed Balls, by the way". 

On a number of Occasions Mr Balls demanded he provides the evidence for his claims. Mr Balls denied any involvement and claimed Mr Osborne's "cheap and partisan" conduct "demeans the office he holds". As the ill-tempered exchanges continued, Mr Balls said the Chancellor had "impugned my integrity" and again demanded an apology.

The Chancellor replied: "The idea that I am going to take lessons in integrity from the man who smeared his way through 13 years of Labour government, who half the people who ever served with him think he was a disgrace in his post is another thing." 

He challenged the Labour benches to admit to the conversation with the Bank of England's Paul Tucker about Libor. "Who was involved, who was involved? Answer the question, one of you must know, hands up!" Mr Osborne said it was "completely fanciful" for Labour to suggest a judge-led inquiry could produce a swift report.

Nadhim Zahawi (Con Stratford-on-Avon) intervened on Mr Balls "Can you confirm that in your time in office, no other minister either in No 10 or the Treasury spoke to the Bank of England on Libor that you know about?" The shadow chancellor did not directly answer and told him: "The reason why we advocate an open, public inquiry, judge-led, is to get precisely to the bottom of all these things."

Penny Mordaunt (Con Portsmouth North) intervened on Ed Balls saying "I have a former Treasury Minister living in my constituency, I unseated her (Sarah McCarthy-Fry) at the last election. To put her mind at rest will the Shadow Chancellor tell us who the Minister referred too was?" Mr Balls declined to answer the question from Ms Mordaunt.

The Commons is currently voting on the Opposition Motion, all of the opposition parties have signed it, except Respect. But both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are whipping their MPs into the "noe" lobby. The smaller parties have said they wont vote against the second motion in the name of the government for a parliamentary inquiry when the opposition motion fails. Stewart Hosie (SNP Dundee East) has urged Labour not to try and block the parliamentary inquiry.