Local MP Bill Wiggin joined Conservative Party Leader David Cameron in attacking Prime Minister Gordon Brown over the economy and the size of the country’s deficit at Prime Minister’s Questions today. Asking the first question, Bill Wiggin challenged the Prime Minister on whether he regretted that Britain entered the downturn with one of the largest budget deficits in the development world. After the Prime Minister failed to give a straight answer, David Cameron raised the matter again during his set of questions. Bill Wiggin said:
“Britain was thoroughly unprepared for the economic downturn because Gordon Brown, as Chancellor of the Exchequer and then as Prime Minister, thought he had ended boom and bust. Gordon Brown was wrong but still refuses to apologise or accept any responsibility.
“During the downturn the deficit has now spiralled to £178 billion this year and over the next few years the National Debt will double to £1.4 trillion. Because of Gordon Brown, tax-payers are now burdened with paying these costs for generations and Britain will be paying more in debt interest than on education or defence.”
Notes to editors:
Extract from Hansard:
Looking back, our economy entered the recession with one of the largest budget deficits of any first world economy. On reflection, does the Prime Minister regret that?
The Prime Minister:
Let us see if the Prime Minister has changed. Let us see if he is prepared to do something that he has never done before—listen to people, and admit his mistakes. My hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Bill Wiggin) asked a very straight question. When Britain went into recession with one of the largest deficits in the industrialised world, that was because this Prime Minister thought he had abolished boom and bust. That claim was wrong, wasn’t it?
The Prime Minister:
As I keep telling the right hon. Gentleman, we went into the recession with one of the lowest debts in the G7, and the reason we had one of the lowest debts in the G7 is that we had taken action over the previous years to run down the debt that had been run up by the Conservative Government. The Prime Minister asks about pictures. Why don’t we do a bit of market research? When it comes to Labour Members’ election addresses, hands up who is going to put the Prime Minister’s picture on the front. Come on, hands up. [Interruption.] Four! There are six of them who do not want him in the Cabinet, and just four who are going to put his picture on their election addresses. He has been airbrushed out of the whole campaign. No, we had one of the lowest debts—the second-lowest debt—in the G7. Our debt was lower than that of America, lower than that of France and of Germany, lower than that of the euro area and lower than that of Japan and of Italy. It is because we had a low debt that we have been able to take the measures that are necessary to help companies to deal with the recession, to help the unemployed get work, to help young people who are leaving school and to help thousands of small businesses survive. We took the right action in the recession; the Opposition advised the wrong action. I am sure that the whole House will agree with the Prime Minister’s statement of condolence.