Jumpergate: PM ‘doesn’t believe people should wear jumpers to stay warm’

Downing Street was subject to ridicule today after the prime minister's spokesman was criticised for suggesting people wear more clothes to stay warm if they cannot afford their fuel bills.

No 10 later put out an even more confusing statement saying the prime minister would not advise people to wear jumpers to stay warm.

"Their crime policy used to be 'hug a hoodie'. Now their energy policy appears to be 'wear a hoodie'," Ed Miliband said.

"These responses to the energy price rises show how little Mr Cameron and his government stand up for the interests of hard working people."

The strange row broke out when the prime minister's spokesman was asked if David Cameron would suggest people "wrap up warm" to avoid energy bills in the wake of British Gas' decision to raise prices.

"That's not a question I have asked him, but clearly he's not going to prescribe the actions individuals should take, but if people are giving that advice that is something they may wish to consider," he said.

Not long afterwards, Downing Street put out a statement clarifying the government position.

"To be clear, it is entirely false to suggest the PM would advise people they should wear jumpers to stay warm. Any suggestion to the contrary is mischief making," it said.

"The prime minister would point people to a range of things being done to help people with their fuel bills, such as legislating to put everyone on the best tariff for them.

"He believes Labour's 'price freeze' policy is a con – and certainly would not advise people on what they should wear."

The row comes as Miliband continues to make energy prices a focus of his political strategy, with a promise to freeze fuel prices for 20 months.