An appearance by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith on Newsnight sparked a political storm today - which led to chancellor George Osborne being branded an “arrogant coward”.

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The Conservative MP appeared on Newsnight last night to defend a Treasury decision to delay the 3p hike in fuel duty.

She repeatedly refused to tell interviewer Jeremy Paxman when she was told that the increase was being delayed.

She said: “As a minister in the Treasury I’ve been involved in discussions for some time. The Chancellor and the Prime Minister take those decisions.

“I’m not going to be able to give you a running commentary on exactly who said what and when.”

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries - a vocal critic of the Tory leadership - was scathing about Mr Osborne’s decision not to take to the airwaves himself to defend his decision.

In a series of messages on Twitter, Ms Dorries wrote: “If Osborne sent Chloe on re scrapping 3p he is a coward as well as arrogant.

“Newsnight would have been a tough gig for a minister with years of experience - Chloe is a good egg and didn’t deserve that.

“The request for Newsnight should have been refused or given a pre-recorded interview. Paxman was doing his job, Osborne wasn’t.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions today, Labour leader Ed Miliband joined in, using Ms Dorries’s quotes to attack the chancellor.

Labour said the Chancellor had “hid away” after making the surprise announcement that the rise planned for August would be held back at least until January, apparently without warning colleagues.

But David Cameron said it was right for Mr Osborne to announce his decisions on taxation to MPs in Parliament.

DISCLAIMER: The YouTube video comes from an external source and was not titled by Archant.

32 comments

  • He's a savage beasty isn't he? I'm no Tory but she faced up without completely going to pieces like most people would. The answer would be that fuel taxes, although a certain revenue stream, can supress the economy. The potential growth of the economy and consequent related taxes would compensate for any loss of revenue.

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    oldowl

    Friday, June 29, 2012

  • About time she was brought down to earth and the bump at the end made it even better viewing.

    Report this comment

    KeithS

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • I`m no fan of Ms Smith but that was not an interview. It was an assault.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, July 3, 2012

  • On a serious note this woman is supposed to be Norwich North's democratic representative in parliament! She couldn't be bothered to reply to my emails,would you want her to fight your corner if you had a problem? thought not! The real reason for the postponing of the 3p rise of course,was that any increase in inflation would mean the government paying out more next April in pension increases! of course she couldn't admit this to Paxman! Never trust a politician,especially a condescending lightweight like this one!

    Report this comment

    Harry Rabinowitz

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • Regardless of Ms Smiths' incompetence, I think someone is having a laugh. That's the 2nd time this year she has been Tory lamb to the BBC slaughter. It happened on Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show earlier this year as well.

    Report this comment

    captaincozmik

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • i am not a fan of the coalition but to say chloe smith was out of her depth is a bit unfair . Jeremy paxman is a top presenter and he has torn many top torys and labour mps apart in his time . . The other comment on here about her ignoring e mails sent to her is valid . Mps should answer all e mails . Many subjects like housing jobs and immigration are ignored by mps

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • Paxman is an excellent and all too rare journalist and presenter who asks politicians the questions that we actually want answers to, he doesnt pussyfoot around asking bland questions that the MPs want asking, he doesnt let them get away with not answering the questions, I wish all radio and TV presenters were more like him.

    Report this comment

    Bruce87

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Like a lamb to the slaughter.

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    samphirelover

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Paxman is unable to provide an opportunity for the interviewee's own position to receive airtime and to also critique it. At 750K a year, personally, I expect a little bit more. As to the debts that New Labour left behind lets be clear: Utter failure to regulate banks - Huge debt; PFI addiction too. Oh & a range of wars in foreign climes that we are not able to afford. But huge public sector cuts as about to hit us will exacerbate this crisis taking it to a new, much worse, level altogether. Finally I note we can afford 2 Billion for snooping and many millions for Trident replacement.

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    Richard Clifford

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Ingo, were you part of that chap's campaign team that gathered a whopping 1000 or so votes? Why did he cease to be an ambassador?

    Report this comment

    robotsthatcare

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • I felt embarrassed that she is a Conservative MP representing Norwich North. She seems hopelessly out of her depth, but we shouldn't be surprised as she was given the job by mistake as Cameron thought that she was an accountant.

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    I LoveNorfolk

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • osborne keeps telling us he has a deficit reduction plan in place . How can he claim this when we are still borrowing 400 million pounds a day

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Chloe Snmith appearance was synonimous with the remoteness of the coaltion Government. The fact that she was pushed forward to be the fall Ms. for Osborne who must be scared of Paxman, proofs thast this election eering, just as the hasty retreat, via the under 25 housing benefit cuts channel, from the question of tax avoidance, the utter repugnant practises of Camerons dad. And the rest of his tax avoiding large donators.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • I am astonished at the attitude of some of the posts on here. I voted for Chloe Smith on a party basis- I thought it was time for change, but to expect me to have some sympathy with her because the nasty Mr Paxman took her to pieces from his first (entirely reasonable) question is ridiculous. This woman is not the unlucky loser of the office sweepstake, she was put on the show as a Treasury Minister, a Government spokesperson. To cry "Aww, bless her, isn't Paxman a bully" is to demean all the intelligent strong women out there who could actually have dealt with this interview so much better. Being out of your depth is inexcusable, whoever you are and the fact that Ms Smith has proved herself incapable of handling a tired old hack, when as a Minister I expect her to be involved in all sorts of tough negotiating scenarios means she loses my vote next time round.

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    Chubster

    Friday, June 29, 2012

  • paxman is right . the tories and lib dems are supposed to be getting the deficit down and there was supposed to be no money available for things like a petrol tax cut . now they are spending the money they have saved and borrowing is increasing rapidly which is what they spent three years mocking labour about . it is playing straight into labours hands

    Report this comment

    Double Bill

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • Agree with BG. Im not a supporter of the Tories - by a long way - but this was bullying, one trick pony - questioning from a tired, hugely overated, journalist paid 750K. Smith should have been given an opportunity to develop her position as well as being questioned on it. That is utterly beyond Paxman. The press reaction has been totally over the top in its negativity. But Alexander & Osborne have also gotten off very lightly indeed.

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    Richard Clifford

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Bullying? He only asked questions which were pertenent and relevant and which most of us would have liked to hear an answer to. She was either instructed not to answer the questions, or she was too scared to.

    Report this comment

    Bruce87

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • And Ms Chloe appears not to be either worried or concerned at the detrimental effect an increase in tax on petrol will have on the purse strings of her hard pressed constituents.

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    Bruce87

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Someone call a doctor, my sides are splitting. Completely out of her depth and not even a performance of someone looking for a quiet time on the back benches. An embarrassment to Norwich North

    Report this comment

    robotsthatcare

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • chloe smith was sent to take the flak osborne did not want to take . This is a goverment who still have to make cuts of 400 million pounds a day to pay for the mess labour left behind . They have failed to make these tough decisions by carrying on spending vast amounts of money on things we simply cannot afford. We are all about to face a greek style outcome very soon

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Norwich North could have had an ex ambassador who knows his stuff, without the ties to party dogma or morals. Norwich North could have sent a signal to the rest of Norfolks out of touch Tories and gained a person living in the real world, as a representative.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • PS: If the purveyors of the video clip insist on describing Chloe Smith as 'hapless', (thats actually not fair) can they also define Paxman as 'mediocre' please?

    Report this comment

    Richard Clifford

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Should be compulsory viewing for all Norwich North voters, Ms Chloe was way out of her depth and incapable of answering any of the questions either accurately or honestly, she was well and truly Paxman'd.

    Report this comment

    Bruce87

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • If Chloe was put up to divert the flack from George & Bungle then she certainly didn't succeed with that, she made Osborne look a fool and unfortunately herself too.

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    Bruce87

    Friday, June 29, 2012

  • At last , it only took you'll a day.

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    billytheolympicbookie

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Paxman is just an arrogant bully. Whatever the merits of Chloe Smith being put up by the Coalition there was no need for him to make a meal of her discomfort. He could have chosen an entirely different style of questioning which would have embarrassed the Coalition more than Chloe; but he obviously thought he would have a bit of fun at the expense of a very junior MP. I hope he feels pleased with himself this morning.

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    BG

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Bought down to earth with a bump - good! from a former supporter.

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    biglingers

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • Typical arrogance from a politician that the public despise, unable to give a clear and coherent answer, she was the same when she knocked on my door canvassing for votes, kept evading my questions, she was out of her depth then as she was with Paxman

    Report this comment

    BOBBY

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • MC, I stick by my comment about Ms Smith being out of her depth. All she could do was repeat 2 or 3 scripted lines, which quite frankly is something you could train a school leaver with no qualifications to do. I expect someone on an MP's salary to be considerably more eloquent and and have greater depth of understanding of the issue being discussed. True, her bosses should never have put her in that position, but it was still a lacklustre effort

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    robotsthatcare

    Friday, June 29, 2012

  • Agree Bruce87. Way out of her depth and showing her incompetence. Did you know that she got the job by mistake as Cameron thought she was an accountant ?. Something the EDP did not or forgot to report. For more scathing blogs have a look on the Telegraph and Daly Mail websites.

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    "V"

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Paxman is an excellent journalist and I wish there were more presenters like him, he doesn't let MPs get away with not answering the question. Our MPs should be held to account more, carry on Jezza.

    Report this comment

    Bruce87

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

  • Anyone considered that she was deliberately sent in to waffle-either under briefed or told to not exactly obfuscate but near enough. She may have been sent to divert the flack from Osborne &co while the coalition government struggles to find a way to clean up Brown and NuLabour's leavings and cope with the Euro mess without causing the country to go into melt down. All while Milliband and co quietly grin that their opponents are getting covered in the **** that Labour left behind and the media has convenient amnesia about how we come to this point.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Friday, June 29, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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