DAVID Cameron appeared to challenge Alex Salmond to a televised head-to-head election debate to heap pressure on Labour leader Ed Miliband to rule out a deal with the SNP.
In ferocious exchanges at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron accused Ed Miliband of wanting to “crawl into Downing Street on the coat-tails of the SNP”.
With Labour veteran MP Frank Field reportedly warning that a deal with the SNP would lead to a breakaway “English Labour Party”, the Prime Minister attempted to capitalise on Mr Miliband’s discomfort and suggested that a Scottish Nationalist/Labour deal would end up with Mr Salmond “calling the tune”.
He said: “He [Mr Miliband] says we need the two leaders, but we need the two leaders who can call the tune — that is me and Alex Salmond. Let us have the debate.”
Mr Cameron’s attack came a few days after the Tories published a poster showing Mr Miliband as a tiny figure nestled in Mr Salmond’s pocket.
However, a Downing Street spokesman later insisted that Mr Cameron “does not want to debate with Alex Salmond” and was “just making a point” about Mr Miliband being in the SNP’s pocket.
Mr Salmond hit back by calling the Prime Minister a “posh boy” and accusing him of running away from a debate with his successor as First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
Reminding people that the Prime Minister refused to debate with him during the independence referendum, the former First Minister said: “Cameron ran scared during the referendum campaign and now he’s running scared again. He should have been called to account last year and should be called to account this year.
“Like most posh boys, given half a chance, he’ll run away from a fight. Nicola Sturgeon would eat him for breakfast in a debate.” In an attack on Labour and the SNP, the Prime Minister claimed there was “an alliance between those who want to bankrupt Britain and those who want to break up Britain”, adding that it would be a “despicable” deal.
And he claimed Mr Miliband had given up on a Labour majority, reading out a Labour leaflet from Scotland which said: “At the General Election we need to stop the Tories being the largest party.”
He added: “Labour is not trying to win; it is just trying to crawl through the gates of Downing street on the coat-tails of the SNP.
“The right honourable gentleman has to prove he is not a chicken and rule that out.”
The Labour leader had pressed Mr Cameron on the row over the Prime Minister trying to avoid taking part in a head-to-head TV debate during the election.
Mr Miliband claimed Mr Cameron was “running for cover” like a “bully” as he challenged Mr Cameron to meet him on three dates proposed by broadcasters during the general election campaign.
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