Cameron's final PMQs: Leaving day, legacies and Larry the cat

"I will miss the roar of the crowd and I will miss the barbs from the opposition... but I will be willing all of you on," David Cameron told the House of Commons at the end of his 147th - and final - appearance at Prime Minister's Questions.

David Cameron in his final session of PMQs, with PM-in-waiting Theresa May (Pic credit: PAWire)
David Cameron in his final session of PMQs, with PM-in-waiting Theresa May (Pic credit: PAWire)
Cameron’s final Prime Minister’s Questions saw serious issues raised, including the rise in homelessness, the fight against ISIS and compensation for the victims of contaminated blood, but the session was dominated by vintage jokes as well as tributes to Cameron from most quarters of the House.

Cameron began by adapting the conventional opening statement to the Speaker, in which he usually states: "In addition to my duties in the House, I shall have further such meetings later today."

But, in reference to his final day as Prime Minister, Cameron said: "Other than a meeting with the Queen, the diary for the rest of my day is remarkably light."

Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan then set out a list of possible jobs that were currently available, including England football manager, presenter of Top Gear and the American presidency, but Cameron dismissed all of these as harder than his current role and said he would pass up on the opportunity.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, questioned the Government’s record on housing and said the rate of homelessness had gone up, before following up with an additional question using quotes from Prime-Minister-in-waiting Theresa May’s speech to highlight economic inequalities for poorer people.

But Cameron segued to congratulating Theresa May before quipping that, as far as female Prime Ministers were concerned, it was 2:0 to the Conservatives and "not a pink bus in sight"

Cameron then mocked the debacle of Labour’s fractious leadership contest, saying: "We’ve had resignation, nomination, competition and coronation but they haven’t even decided what the rules are yet," to laughs on both side of the House. He continued: "If they ever get into power it will take them a year to decide who will sit where."

Corbyn, who it was announced yesterday will contest the leadership, replied that "democracy is an exciting and splendid thing and I’m enjoying every moment of it."

Cameron continued that he was beginning to admire his opposite number’s tenacity and said Corbyn reminded him of the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. 

There was more warmth between the two leaders than in any previous session of PMQs as Corbyn thanked Cameron for his contribution to British politics and paid tribute to his wife Samantha and their children for supporting him.

Corbyn went on to thank Cameron’s mother for her previous sage words on his dress sense and singing the national anthem, in reference to a previous PMQs, and that he was reflecting on her advice.

Cameron replied that he seemed to have taken her advice and was looking "absolutely splendid today".
Cameron also used his final opportunity at the despatch box to scotch a rumour that he dislikes Larry the Downing Street cat, chief mouser to the Cabinet Office.

"I do love him," said Cameron, holding up a picture of Larry sitting on his lap to laughter from the house.

SNP MPs, led by Angus Robertson, struck a dour note and refused to pay tribute to Cameron, accusing him instead of bringing the country to the brink of leaving the EU.

But the prevailing mood returned following a request by Ken Clarke MP that Cameron remain an active participant on the back benches after he leaves office.

The Prime Minister joked that Clarke’s first act upon becoming Chancellor was to fire him as a special adviser to the Treasury, while Cameron’s first act as shadow leader was to appoint him to his front bench.

There were further quips that Conservative modernisation had not extended as far as getting Clarke to carry a mobile phone –  "he did briefly have one but he said the problem is people keep ringing me on it" –  and that 9am meetings had to be moved to make way for Clarke’s famous love of cigars.

Cameron then told the House how he would be willing MPs of all persuasions on in the future and paid tribute to them.

He said: "People come here with great passion for the issues they care about and great love for the constituencies they represent. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. After all, as I once said, I was the future once."

Cameron received a standing ovation from Tory MPs while Labour benches contented themselves with applauding him.

According to Brandwatch, this week’s PMQs generated more than 31,000 tweets, the highest this year. Twitter sentiment towards Cameron was 61 per cent positive, while for Corbyn it was 67 per cent positive.

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