In one of his first campaign encounters with ordinary people, Gordon Brown came off worst yesterday when he was questioned by young first-time voters. The Prime Minister lost his temper and stumbled over his answers as he came under withering attack about immigration and his expenses.

After weeks of being transported from one photo opportunity with Labour party members to another, faced with real voters on Radio 1’s Newsbeat Mr Brown was repeatedly interrupted and urged to admit his mistakes.

He was forced on to the back foot over his claim for thousands of pounds to pay his brother to hire a cleaner for his second home.

Gordon Brown being interviewed by BBC Radio 1’s Tulip Mazumdar today where he became increasingly defensive as he took questions from first time voters

One questioner in the programme presented by Tulip Mazumdar was Rachel Barr, 18, a student at Edinburgh University. Barr: Young people aren’t voting at the moment. I think that’s partly due to the MPs expenses scandal. They don’t have much trust in politicians or in politics any more. How do you plan to engage young people in politics again?

Brown: I’m shocked what some MPs did. It was a scandal. My father was a minister of the church. I was taught that honesty was the most important thing . . . I’m not in politics for what I can get out of it.

Mazumdar: What about your expenses because you claimed thousands of pounds for cleaning? What was going through your head when you thought it was OK for the taxpayer to pay for that?

Brown [irritated]: I’ve got to stay in two places at once. Right. And I’ve got my wife and my children. Mazumdar: But for your cleaning?

Brown: I had a cleaner and paid her a decent wage and at that time people thought it was acceptable if you had someone to clean your house, it was an acceptable expense.

Barr: [It’s] insulting that we pay for your cleaning.

Mr Brown then faced a young voter who said her builder uncle was out of a job because immigration had got ‘out of control’.

Siobhan Randles, 25, demanded on nine separate occasions that Mr Brown explain why Labour had failed to introduce tougher immigration controls before he set up a points system in 2007.

The Prime Minister appeared to patronise his questioner by explaining: ‘It’s called the Australian style points system because it’s used in Australia.’

A succession of questions called on him to admit that Labour ‘got it wrong’ when it estimated that only 13,000 Eastern Europeans would arrive after joining the EU. In fact more than a million migrants from new EU states have come since 2004.

The Prime Minister replied: ‘I don’t think [we got it] wrong. We didn’t misjudge it.’

Miss Randles hit back: ‘How do you expect us to restore our faith and trust in you when you can’t admit that there’s a problem?’

Mr Brown conceded: ‘I said there has been a problem and we’re dealing with it by tightening up the controls on immigration.’

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