Miliband: Cameron too busy with Fox to worry about real job losses

By Ian Dunt

The prime minister is so busy trying to save Liam Fox's job he cannot deal with unemployment, Ed Miliband said today.

The Labour leader made the attack during a stormy PMQs session shortly after the release of figures showing unemployment at nearly three million.

"On the day of the worst unemployment figures in 17 years, the prime minister is fighting to save the job of the defence secretary, but he is doing nothing to save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people up and down this country,” the Labour leader said.

"It's one rule if you're in the Cabinet and another for everyone else."

The prime minister repeatedly batted away questions about the defence secretary through the session, saying that MPs should wait for the review by the Cabinet secretary before coming to any conclusions.

"I think the defence secretary has done an excellent job clearing up after Labour," he added.

Mr Miliband called on the prime minister to cut VAT, invest in construction and implement a new bankers' bonus tax to stimulate the economy in the face of employment figures.

"When is the party opposite going to understand you can't borrow your way out of a debt crisis?" Mr Cameron hit back.

"He wants us to change course on reducing the deficit. We'd end up with interest rates like Greece and we'd end up in a tail spin."

Mr Miliband replied: "What a terrible answer. To have a credible plan on the deficit you need a credible plan for growth."

But the Labour leader was embarrassed when he claimed that energy companies were changing behaviour because of his conference speech, which was badly received outside the Labour conference.

"I will take on those companies that don't do the right thing," the Labour leader said.

"We're seeing change today in the energy sector because of what I said."

To jeers on the Tory benches, the prime minister compared the quote with Gordon Brown's infamous claim to have "saved the world".

He added: "You wouldn't bring back Fred Goodwin to sort out the banks, why would you bring them back to fix the economy?"

Today was the first PMQs since the party conference season. It takes place amid intense speculation about the future of the defence secretary, who is currently being investigated by Sir Gus O'Donnell.