As Mr Cameron fielded questions, the shadow chancellor was said to have pointed his finger and jeered: "You're not briefed. You're not briefed." After a question that Labour thought Mr Cameron sidestepped, Mr Balls called out: "Why don't you just say 'I'll write to you' if you don't know the answer?"David Cameron today blurted out that he finds Ed Balls "the most annoying man in modern politics".
In an unscripted Commons outburst, he said he wished the shadow chancellor would "occasionally shut up". Labour immediately accused the Prime Minister of losing his cool under pressure.
The exchange came at the end of a 30-minute session of Prime Minister's Questions, in which Mr Balls allegedly kept up a stream of low-level heckling.
That comment was a reference to Mr Balls's reputation for stepping on toes and engaging in bare-knuckle policy fights, including claims that his supporters brief against colleagues.Tories said the Labour jibes were the equivalent of "sledging" in cricket, when fielders deliberately try to put the batsman off balance. Eventually Mr Cameron snapped: "I wish the shadow chancellor would occasionally shut up and listen to the argument."
Labour leader Ed Miliband led a chorus of Labour "oohs" at the comment, while Mr Cameron carried on: "I may be alone in finding him the most annoying person in modern politics."
An excited Mr Miliband turned with a grin to congratulate Mr Balls and laughed at the Prime Minister, who coolly warned him: "I've got a feeling that one day the Leader of the Opposition will agree with me."
But a Tory said Mr Balls's behaviour deserved the rebuke. "He never stops talking and burbling. All through PMQs he was talking away and he never listens to a word. He is truly annoying."The exchange took away the warmth of a session that started with pleasantries about the impending marriage of Mr Miliband to Justine Thornton.
A spokesman for Mr Balls said: "Can't believe Cameron snapped. A great victory for us." A Labour source claimed: "The pressure is getting to Cameron."
Add your view
Balls is getting under Dave's skin with some home truths and a few lessons in home economics; that's why Dave is losing his mojo. In fact the most annoying politicians these days are Liam Fox and Danny Alexander.
Balls is growing in confidence and feeling much more at ease at the dispatch box than a year ago. Strong performance in his Reply to the Budget. Probably the most astute economist around these days.
- dhan raj, basildon, 30/03/2011 15:44
Poor old Eton Dave knows his time is nearly up and he cant handle the pressure. It wont be long before hes back in oppositon and can happily cycle to work without a care in the world.
- Martin, Penzance, 30/03/2011 15:39
Balls understands the folly of Cameron's breathless austerity policy. Balls has been patiently trying to explain its economic illiteracy. That's why Cameron finds him annoying.
- Bloke, Lambeth, 30/03/2011 15:28
Bercow is being paid to ensure there is no heckling in the house. If he is failing to do so then kick him out and replace him with someone willing and able to do the job. (Any garden gnome could do it).
- R.F.Yorke, Yorks,, 30/03/2011 15:21
Good For Cameron - he speaks for millions. Just how pathetic and juvenile are Balls and Milliband - do they have a the remotest idea of the genuine problems facing this country? mostly of their making - that all they can gloat about is how they "won" by annoying the Prime Minister. They should stick to the back of the bike shed - that is the level of their "antics". Pathetic losers.
- Dee, London, 30/03/2011 15:21
Took him long enough to draw the same conclusion everybody else already had the moment this pushy spoilt overgrown hypocrite of a public schoolboy opened his mouth.
An overconfident, yet incompetent 'Big Ed'.
- Concerned Observer, Harrow, 30/03/2011 15:14
It's a pretty poor riposte by "Mr Cool" Cameron. Obviously Balls must worry him.
- corin, London, 30/03/2011 15:09
Balls the same as dhan, just does not know when to button the lip. Well done Dave.
- terry, london, 30/03/2011 15:05
Where was Mr Speaker???? Isn't it his job to control the house, which he did not 'if Mr Balls allegedly kept up a stream of low-level heckling' for a '30-minute session'.
- alan, carlisle uk, 30/03/2011 15:02
Ed Balls should be looking to the case of Sharon Shoesmith.
He should examine his considerable length of time as head of The Childrens Safeguarding Unit, within his Department of Children Schools & Families and tell us what he did, in reality, to make the structure of frontline child protection in practice, be enabled to work, for the IDENTIFIED being abused children, up and down this country??
- Darnthesafetynet, London W11 1NR, 30/03/2011 14:55
Cameron saying what he believes, must be a good thing!
At this rate he might just get the voters' respect.
- Neil, London, 30/03/2011 14:54
Well said Dave, you've acquired a few fans today.
Dhan Raj . . . . it`s Gaddafi.
- Realist, London SW, 30/03/2011 14:48
Balls demonstrates all the psychological characteristics of an infantile individual who now realises he not only hung onto the wrong shirt tail in supporting Gordon Brown over the past 13 years, but also was a large contributor to causing the mess that is now called the UK economy. His attempts to cover his ineptitude have all the hallmarks of desperation and we can all hope this only serves to remind voters that a repeat of a Labour government will only bring about the same disasters we are now experiencing.
- bingham macnamara, lymington, UK, 30/03/2011 14:36
Well done Dave, we thought it, you said it.
And he didn't lose his temper, it was quite deliberate and understated. Balls is not just the most annoying person in politics, he is also the most annoying person in the UK.
Still don't worry Ed, you've got Dhan as a friend and that's all that really counts.
- Stephen C, LONDON, 30/03/2011 14:32
what a arrogance of the pm
and what a rubbish questions ask at pm question time blaming one another when people are suffering
- aLEX, Stanmore uk, 30/03/2011 14:25
Yet again the fool named Raj comes out with a stupid comment supporting Labour.
- Tojo, Hythe Kent, 30/03/2011 14:23
Good for David Cameron! Most people agree that he is a smug fat-faced stuttering bully.That is why I am pleased he is so high up in Labour - it makes them unelectable.
- Barry from Bermondsey, Bermondsey - Centre of London, 30/03/2011 14:16
Well done Dave - at last a politican tells the truth.
Ed Balls makes a balls up of everything.
What do you expect from a typical union member/backer.
- michael, London, 30/03/2011 14:13
If the Libyan 'Rebels' could see him now, I think they'd give up the will to live. Cameron has got the 'Gadaffi Syndrome' of Omnipotence.
- dhan raj, basildon, 30/03/2011 14:12
Stating the obvious really.
- artfuldodger128, london, 30/03/2011 14:05