Ed Miliband has accused David Cameron of being a "weak" leader as the prime minister faces a Commons defeat over a potential rise in the European Union budget.
This evening the Labour Party will vote with Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers to demand Cameron lobby other European leaders for a real-terms cut in the budget
Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Miliband mocked Cameron's inability to control his own MPs.
"He can't convince European leaders, he can't even convince his own backbenchers. He is weak abroad he is weak at home, it's John Major over again," he said.
He added: "How can he be giving up on a cut in the EU budget before the negotiations have begun?"
Miliband was recalling a famous exchange between Tony Blair and the former Tory prime minister in 1997. “The prime minister of our country can’t even urge his party to support his own position," Blair said. "Weak, weak, weak."
Blair, then leader of the opposition, added: "His weakness and his failure of leadership are the reason his government is the incompetent mess it is."
Also echoing Major's response to Blair in 1997, Cameron accused Miliband of "opportunism" over Europe and said he was prepared to veto any rise in the budget if he could not get a freeze.
"The whole country will see through what is rank opportunism. People haven't forgotten the fact they gave away half our rebate in one negotiation. They agreed a massive increase in the EU budget under their government," he said.
"This government is taking the toughest line in these budget negotiations of any government since we joined the EU. At best we would like it cut, at worst frozen, I am quite prepared to use the veto."
Cameron's statement that he would like to see the Budget cut if possible is a shift in position, having previously argued he wanted to see a freeze.
The whole session took on a 1990s feel after Miliband quoted from a report prepared by former Tory deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine published today which is critical of the government’s growth strategy.
As he made fun of the government's growth strategy, Miliband told the Commons."I'm enjoying this.” The line Margaret Thatcher used in her last ever PMQs before quitting as prime minister in 1990.Suggest a correction