Prime Minister David Cameron used the row engulfing Scottish Labour to mock his rival Ed Miliband yesterday.
The Conservative leader highlighted the fall-out from Johann Lamont’s resignation during exchanges over his public refusal last week to pay a £1.7billion EU surcharge.
After a statement in the Commons, Mr Miliband questioned why Mr Cameron had not anticipated the bill from Brussels.
He said: “Isn’t the truth this is a familiar pattern with this prime minister – months and months where you don’t do the work followed by last minute pyrotechnics when it goes wrong.”
The Labour leader added: “Once again you show that despite all your bluster, you have been asleep at the wheel and it is the British people paying the price.”
Mr Cameron said he would not take lectures from Mr Miliband, who was part of the “most dysfunctional government in British history”.
He added: “I am afraid with the shambles in the Scottish Labour Party we learned one thing this week – even your own party don’t see you as a leader.”
The prime minister also said that Britain would not pay “anything like” the £1.7 billion which is being demanded by the European Commission by December 1 in additional contributions to the EU budget.
Tory MP Kenneth Clarke – a member of Mr Cameron’s Cabinet until July – cast doubt on the Mr Cameron’s claim that the demand took the government by surprise, telling MPs that the Foreign Office and Treasury must have known for at least five months that it was on its way.
The SNP said the UK Government agreed to the EU’s new budget arrangements at a meeting in May this year.
Mike Weir MP said: “This exposes the total incompetence of the UK government.
“They agreed to these funding arrangements as far back as May 26 – when they could have challenged and stopped them, but chose not to. David Cameron really was asleep at the wheel – and it is the UK taxpayer who is being hit for his shambles.”