Tories break ranks to attack Brown

Shadow chancellor George Osborne has broken free of the bipartisan approach to the financial crisis which marked the last few days to launch a strongly worded attack on the prime minister, accusing him of being responsible for the current chaos.

Mr Osborne said Gordon Brown has presided over “the biggest economic disaster of our lifetime”.

In an article in the Evening Standard today, he described the bailout package as “a necessary but desperate last ditch attempt to prevent catastrophe”.

He continued: “This is no triumph. It is a necessary and desperate last ditch attempt to prevent catastrophe.”

The shadow chancellor pointed to the status of HSBC, which he said took few risks and seems to have emerged from the crisis “relatively unscathed”. He said this signified the government had to take some responsibility for the crisis because it failed to ensure other banks were more effectively regulated.

He also complained that Mr Brown had allowed public and private borrowing to spiral, leaving the UK in a precarious position when it comes to dealing with the current crisis.

While reiterating his willingness to “work constructively with other political parties on solving the immediate crisis”, Mr Osborne said the prime minister had to be held to account for his actions.

The Tories have been struggling to gain political leverage from the current crisis while being careful not to repeat the partisan bickering that befell American politicians last month.

But Conservative MPs were visibly disgruntled during last week’s prime minister’s questions. Mr Brown was free to attack David Cameron, but the Tory leader had to blunt his arguments in order to appear cooperative at a time of national crisis.