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Andrew Mitchell: Miliband Says 'He's Toast'
Labour leader Ed Miliband has mocked Tory Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell during Prime Minister's Questions and declared "he's toast".
Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to defend the senior Tory yet again as his row with a policeman dominated the first PMQs session for more than a month.
Mr Miliband sought to use the affair to show that the Tories are a party of the privileged minority who want to live by different rules to the rest of the country.
"If a yob in a city centre on a Saturday night abused a police officer, ranting and raving, the chances are they would be arrested and placed in the back of a police car and rightly so," he said.
"The Prime Minister would be the first in the queue to say it was right. But while it's a night in the cell for the yobs, it's a night in the Carlton Club for the Chief Whip. Isn't that the clearest case there could be of total double standards?"
Mr Cameron retorted: "He wants to discuss these issues because he has nothing to say about the country."
But the Labour leader continued: "They say that I practise class war and they go round calling people plebs.
"It is good to see the Cabinet supporting him in public but what are they saying in private: 'He's completely undermined, his position is untenable.'
"In other words, he's toast. That is the reality. While everybody else loses their jobs, the Chief Whip keeps his. If you're a millionaire you get a tax cut, if you're anyone else you get a tax rise."
The Prime Minister admitted yet again that his Chief Whip had been wrong but insisted his apology had been accepted by police chiefs and that it was time to move on.
"This Government will get on with the big issues of helping Britain compete and succeed in the world," he told MPs.
Mr Mitchell looked uncomfortable as he watched the clash from the frontbenches. At one point, he appeared to deny having sworn at police.
He shook his head, apparently mouthing "I didn't, I didn't" as Mr Miliband said that people who swear at police should expect to be arrested.
This sparked more raised eyebrows, with Tory MP Michael Fabricant claiming the Chief Whip had reignited the row himself after previously admitting he had sworn.
Sky's Deputy Political Editor Joey Jones says there is now an increasing push to oust the Chief Whip over the affair.
"The constant and agonising undercurrent for the Conservative Party at the moment is about the position of the Chief Whip. It is becoming a huge preoccupation for MPs and ministers," he said.
"Utterly authoritative sources tell me that senior Conservative ministers are beyond despair at the situation, which they can see just dragging on and becoming a huge distraction."
Mr Mitchell faces another serious test later when the 1922 Committee meets and party members are given a chance to state their views.
He will not attend the session but it is believed that he will meet with the committee's executive afterwards where he will be made aware of the mood.
The senior Tory has been clinging to his job, which he only took on in the recent reshuffle, since it emerged he had rowed with a policeman on September 19.
He ranted at the officer at the Downing Street gates when he was told he could not cycle out of the main entrance.
Mr Mitchell has denied calling the police "plebs" during the argument but his account conflicts with the official police record.
He failed to quell the row with a lacklustre apology live on Sky News and then stayed away from the Tory conference last week to avoid being a "distraction".
The Opposition has already tabled a motion calling for Mr Mitchell to be docked £1,000 from his salary - roughly the same amount he would have been fined for swearing at an officer.