Cameron warns of opposition’s unwillingness to tackle deficit

David Cameron on BBC1's Andrew Marr show.
David Cameron on BBC1's Andrew Marr show.
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LABOUR WOULD plunge the country into “real poverty” if they were to regain power in the general election, the Prime Minister has warned.

Stepping up his attack on the opposition ahead of May’s vote, David Cameron said the party’s failure to tackle the deficit in public finances could lead debt to spiral out of control.

Mr Cameron said Labour’s unwillingness to make the necessary cuts would mean the country would have to find an additional £13.5 billion in debt interest payments over the course of the next parliament.

“People know if you don’t do that, that is when you get real poverty,” he said.

“Look what happened in countries like Portugal and Greece that saw their debts and their deficits go out of control. They had to cut their NHS by 16 per cent, 17 per cent.”

Mr Cameron also challenged figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility suggesting that the Government had so far only found 40 per cent of the cuts needed to address the deficit and that the remaining 60 per cent would have to be found during the next parliament.

“Those figures aren’t actually correct. They don’t take into account what we have already said we would do for 2015-16,” he said.

He has also defended Conservative plans which he said meant cutting spending by government departments by a further £13 billion and reducing welfare spending by £12 billion, while saving £5 billion by tackling tax evasion.

Mr Cameron said: “It is not some ideological obsession, it is not because we are dessicated accountants.

“It’s because I think it’s right for our country, it is right for future generations, that at the end of seven years of economic growth, by 2018, we should start not to be borrowing but to be putting aside money for a rainy day when storms in the future might hit.”

The wide-ranging interview is further evidence of how the Tories will focus on plans to commitment to continuing to reduce the deficit - highlighting Labour’s lack of economic credibility - in their manifesto.

Mr Cameron and his colleagues are also increasing efforts to distance themselves from coalition partners the Liberal Democrats in the countdown to the general election.

The Prime Minister said: “Labour and the Liberal Democrats want to go on borrowing year after year, never paying back any money.

“If we turn back now, if we listen to the people who got us into this mess in the first place, we could really threaten the economic recovery that is now under way.”

The attack comes as Labour launches a new campaign claiming the NHS will not survive if the UK opts for five years of with the Conservative party in charge.

Dismissing the claims, shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “What you see here are desperate claims from a desperate Prime Minister.

“He has increased taxes more than 20 times in this parliament.

“This is a man who is borrowing £219 billion more than he planned to do at the beginning of this parliament - that is the equivalent of the health, defence and transport budgets put together - because his economic plan has failed.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is preparing to attack the future spending plans of his coalition partners in a press conference later today.

“They’re trying to sell you an ideological approach to cuts to public services packaged up as continuity. It’s a con. It’s like a mobile phone salesman offering to renew your existing contract and then cutting the amount of calls you can make,” he is expected to say.

“They have made a choice to remorselessly cut the money for public services even after the deficit has been eliminated.”