PMQs as-it-happened

Review our live coverage of this week's prime minister's questions with our live blog.

By Alex Stevenson

12:41 – And with that, I'm wrapping up. See you next week for the last PMQs of the year…

12:39 – After last week's electric exchanges, that's the end of this week's even more gripping session. This was good for a different reason: genuine pressure faced by the prime minister, who faced question after question from eurosceptic malcontents seated behind him. This week was all about them. But, rather than fading into the background, Ed Miliband managed to harness the issue at hand by acting as an amplifier for their concerns, not those of his own party. It worked: Cameron needed to summon all of his politicking powers to get through one of the toughest PMQs sessions he's faced since entering Downing Street.

12:36 – Sir Peter Tapsell, the father of the House, gets in a question at the end of the session. His rather long-winded question wraps up with a suggestion that the proposal for a fiscal union poses "a great threat to the whole of the liberty of Europe". Oh dear – he's still going on. It will "make Germany still more dominant". Extremely impressive lengthy question. "No taxation without representation is the bastion of freedom!" He finishes. Labour love it. The chancellor grins. "We've heard the question," Bercow says. Here's Cameron's reply: "The reason he and I don't want to join the single currency is we would not be prepared to put up with the supra-national power of being told what our debt and our deficit is." And that, finally, is that.

12:34 – Fiona Bruce, a Tory backbencher, asks a question about regulation – a whiff of the whips about that one, although you never know. On the other side of the House, a second female Labour MP, Fiona O'Donnell, delivers the line: "No wonder he continues to turn off women." Cameron declines from making a joke about that one. He simply attacks the opposition instead – obviously feeling there hasn't been enough about that. "Mr Speaker, we have been standing here for 33 minutes," he says – obviously he wants the questioning to finish…

12:32 – Thankfully Tory Mark Lancaster does give the PM some respite, asking about planning instead. Then comes the DUP's Nigel Dodds, who calls for a referendum on the changes in Europe. All Cameron can do is refer to the 'referendum lock' – which won't deliver what Dodds and so many others want. "The fact that people feel so betrayed by what happened under the last government – that cannot happen again."

12:30 – Julian Lewis, Tory eurosceptic, brings us back to the topic of the day. He warns against a "dangerously undemocratic single government" for eurozone countries. Cameron is left saying "we should maintain Britain's position outside the euro – that's exactly what I'll be doing in Brussels". So many Tory MPs, so many questions on Europe – I wonder when the last time there was a PMQs so dominated by one single subject. Not for a while, that's for sure.

12:28 – Following a question on NHS reforms, the next Tory MP is Andrea Leadsom. She raises the Oxford Parent Infant Project. Hang on… that's not about Europe! Is she the first Tory MP to not raise the eurozone crisis? Cameron has reason to be thoroughly relieved as he gives a rather long answer. Bill Esterson, Labour, raises a question about VAT cuts. Cameron isn't interested. "They've got a huge long list of extra spending and extra tax cuts they want," he says, talking about Labour.

12:26 – Andrew Turner is another Tory to raise Europe. He wants changes on employment, immigration and fishing rights to help support Britain's economy. This is an astonishingly clear message the PM is getting from his party. Cameron says the more changes the EU asks for after this week's summit, the more changes Britain can get in return. That's not a bad line – it's as good as it gets, really – but will it be enough to satisfy his party's extremely unsatisfied backbenchers?

12:24 – Right – after a question on families from a Labour MP, it's time for Ian Swales – the improbable Liberal Democrat MP from Redcar – who invites Cameron to comment on councils thinking of turning down the government's offered council tax freeze. Then comes Jim Dobbin, who possesses one of the best billy-goat-gruff beards in parliament. He's worried about funding for schools from local authorities, and its impact on faith schools and school choice.

12:21 – Former shadow business secretary Pat McFadden raises Europe, too. "What I regret is that the party opposite gave away so many powers – it's going to take a while to get so many of them back!" Cameron replies – finally some cheers from the Tories. "But we're making progress," the PM adds, a bit desperately. He needed that addition…

12:20 – John Baron, ANOTHER right-winger, raises further repatriation of powers. He wants a "fundamental renegotiation" and not "political union and deadweight regulation". It's a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – will the prime minister seize the moment?" The answer, of course, is no. Cameron says he's a bit more optimistic, as this ordeal from his own benches continues. This is a fascinating session. "We should recognise what our leverage is and make the most of it," the PM says. That won't be enough to satisfy the rebels.

12:17 – Next Miliband says the tax on private jets has been delayed by a year. He says this deserves more publicity, before highlighting the difficulties of a working mother. "He had 13 years to tax private jets, and now former Labour leaders are jetting around in them!" Cameron responds. Very neat kicking. Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, isn't having any of it. He offers the IFS report to Cameron, who gets flustered. Bercow interrupts, and tells the PM to be "brief". So Cameron makes a lengthy point, saying "there is not a party in Europe apart from the Moldovan Communists that backs his party's plans". Miliband leaps up, on the offensive, doing very well. "The figures speak for themselves," he says. But then his energy dissipates and by the time he makes his final punch, it's not especially effective. Cameron leaps on this: "His soundbites get weaker and weaker as his leadership gets weaker and weaker." This is a new line of attack from the prime minister – it's really quite significant.

12:14 – Now, back to Miliband, who takes on the autumn statement and the IFS figures suggesting the poorest third lose out more than the bottom third. Cameron says that's just "wrong" – citing the top ten per cent and the bottom ten per cent. Which, of course, is slightly more selective…

12:12 – A rabble-rouser of a question from Mark Tami, Labour, who wonders whether Cameron will be spending Christmas with Rebekah Brooks and Jeremy Clarkson. The PM says he'll be having a "quiet family Christmas". Next, another Tory MP, Mark Pritchard, raises Europe – again. Are they ever going to ask about anything else? He says the "competitiveness problem" at the heart of the crisis needs to be made.

12:11 – After a question on public sector pensions – the first which hasn't been about Europe – we get a question from Tory Steven Baker, who calls on Britain to "leave Europe" altogether. "I do think there are opportunities for Britain in Europe," Cameron insists. He says "as Europe changes, of course there are opportunities… but the first priority is to make sure the eurozone crisis which is having such a bad effect on our economy is resolved". And then there's "safeguarding" – the word of the week for the prime minister, obviously.

12:09 – Next up is Andrew Tyrie, chair of the Commons' Treasury committee, who suggests nothing could unite Britain more than an assault on the financial services sector. Cameron is quite grateful for this. He says he wants to see the economy rebalanced, but acknowledges the City is a key part of it. "It is absolutely vital we safeguard it," he says. There's that word again. He says he'll be "fighting" for more controls over financial regulation later this week.

12:07 – After an attack on Labour, which "surrenders" Britain's national interest, Miliband gets rescued by Bercow. Miliband gets in a quick soundbite – from promising "handbagging" six weeks ago to "handwringing" now. He says Cameron is "left on the sidelines" and accuses him of being caught between promises in opposition and the realities of government. Cameron, who is struggling a bit here, hits back with a rather personal jibe: "Even the best scripted jokes on handbags isn't going to save his leadership." You always know he's on the ropes when he resorts to bully mode. There's a lot more of this, and Tory MPs shout "more" before we move on. Round two coming up shortly.

12:05 – Miliband begins by quoting Cameron saying the repatriation of powers could take place if limited treaty change takes place. He's asking the question the Tory eurosceptics want to hear most of all! All are amused. The PM, under pressure, repeats the "safeguards" line once again. "Let me explain," he says. The more the eurozone countries ask for, the more Britain will ask for in return. Miilband: "The more he talked, the more confusing his position was." Labour cheers – and the Tories looking distinctly miffed. Miliband elaborates on his initial question, citing the fact there's not one mention of the repatriation of powers in Cameron's article in the Times today. "I don't resile from a single word I said," Cameron replies defiantly. He says in the area of financial services, "specifically and particularly" – an interesting phrase – he wants to ensure Britain has "more power and control here in the UK". Nowhere else, it seems.

12:03 – Right, time to go. First is Tory right-winger Andrew Rosindell. He says the British people want a "resolute and uncompromising defence of Britain's national interests" and, secondly, a resolution of the eurozone crisis. Will Cameron show some "bulldog spirit"? The PM replies that is "exactly" what he will do. The British national interest is all about fixing the eurozone, he says, not really answering the first bit of the question. "At the same time we must seek safeguards for Britain, that is the right thing to do" – that's about as good as it gets.

12:01 – Nick Clegg, wearing a shockingly bright tie, sits down alongside the prime minister. They exchange their usual chit-chat as international development secretary Andrew Mitchell fields questions. Outside, Big Ben is bonging 12. Nearly time to go.

12:00 – This could be one of those PMQs which ends up being more about the government backbenchers asking awkward questions than the leader of the opposition, though.

11:59 – Right, nearly time to go. On the off-chance that Miliband does decide to lead with something other than Europe, please accept my sincere apologies and disregard all of the below! Let's see whether I'm right. No pressure, here.

11:57 – In the Commons chamber, international development questions is just wrapping up. Speaker John Bercow delivers his traditional 'shut up' message – in slightly more diplomatic language, of course – as the noise level gets unsociably high…

11:50 – All of this suggests that a more general approach could be the best bet for Miliband. Ultimately, the problems faced by Labour over Europe are nothing when compared to the enormous schism currently dividing the Conservatives. Backbenchers' demands for the repatriation of powers, which they think should be the price for Britain's cooperation with whatever deal is eventually produced, make the prime minister's task an extremely unenviable one. He faces the bigger test this week.

11:48 – Tackling the issue of the week could prove tricky for the leader of the opposition, however. Labour is far from united on Europe, as October's vote on an EU referendum showed. Ed Miliband cannot speak for his party in the same way that he can on economic issues, for example. So, ahead of a critical two-day summit in which Europe's leaders will come up with a plan to solve the eurozone crisis, the pressure will be on him to tackle the issue in a way which doesn't compromise his own party's fractured views.

11:45 – Good morning all, and welcome to the penultimate prime minister's questions of 2011. The Arab Spring, phone-hacking scandal, August riots and the eurozone crisis have dominated headlines this year – and I'm betting it'll be the latter which grips MPs' attention in the Commons in just a few minutes' time.