VIDEO: Political row after Norwich North MP Chloe Smith’s Newsnight interview
19:01 27 June 2012
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”.
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.
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