Cameron Backtracks On Vow To Slash State Spending

(Daily Mail) – DAVID CAMERON yesterday watered down his plans to take an axe to state spending.

The Tory leader promised he would tackle the deficit immediately but said cuts did not have to be ‘particularly extensive’ at first.

His comments suggest a softer approach to the public finances amid warnings of a possible double dip recession.

Chancellor Alistair Darling has warned that over-hasty deficit reduction could derail economic recovery.

Speaking at a lunch with business leaders, Mr Cameron said: ‘Plans that don’t start now are not particularly meaningful. I think you have to see some early action.

‘And early action doesn’t have to be particularly extensive, it just has to be early, and it has got to be action.’

He has promised to tackle the record £178billion budget deficit following the release this week of weaker-than-expected growth figures.

Mr Cameron has warned Britain faces a Greek-style debt crisis unless cuts begin this summer along with ‘bold’ steps to reinvigorate the economy.

In a speech at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, the Tory leader said: ‘Our reputation rests on rejecting the course of inaction and the path of least resistance.

‘Instead we must be bold enough to make the right judgment – however difficult that may be – to ensure the long-health of our economy and restore Britain’s reputation on the world stage.

‘The stark truth is that today, Britain’s reputation is at risk. To deal with this we need to make sure people can look at our budget deficit without worrying about our creditworthiness.’

Conservative sources denied that Mr Cameron was rowing back on his pledge to cut spending.

But Vince Cable, LibDem Treasury spokesman, said: ‘The Tories’ confused statements about cuts show that they don’t really know what to do about the economy.

‘In their desperation to sound tough on public spending, the Tories didn’t take economic reality into account.

‘It is of course necessary to cut public spending but this must be done when the economy is strong enough to cope.

‘The economy remains dependent on artificial money creation and a Government running a massive deficit, but with growth of just 0.1per cent, immediately slashing government spending would be disastrous.’

Treasury chief secretary Liam Byrne said: ‘Just as Britain’s families and businesses have fought through from recession to recovery, Mr Cameron offers a betrayal in the mountains of Davos.

‘Instead of backing Britain’s recovery, he dogmatically insists he’ll slam on the brakes come what may – even if it forces a double dip recession.

‘He either doesn’t understand economics or doesn’t care about people’s jobs.’

Last year, Mr Cameron outlined £7billion a year of cuts to public services – including an end to tax credits, baby bonds and a cap on public sector pension payouts.