Dannatt: I won’t take it easy on Cameron

By Liz Stephens and Ian Dunt

General Sir Richard Dannnatt has confirmed he will become a minister in a Cameron government but insisted he “won’t give him an easy time” either.

In his first public statement since being announced for the post, General Dannatt said that he had been a “pain the in the government’s eyes” as head of the army, but denied he would be any less demanding of David Cameron.

“I am not saying I’ll give him an easy time either,” he said.

Sir Richard was issued with the invitation to become a potential future defence minister for the Tories by Mr Cameron during the Conservative party conference this week.

However, this announcement was unintentionally marred by shadow home secretary Chris Grayling.

Asked how he felt about the idea of Sir Richard’s appointment, Mr Grayling – clearly unaware that Sir Richard had been offered the position by Mr Cameron – misheard the question and assumed the reporter was referring to an appointment by the government.

He promptly dismissed the move as a publicity stunt by Gordon Brown, much to the embarrassment of Tory officials.

Speaking about his appointment last night at his lecture at the Windsor Leadership Trust, Sir Richard said: “My only motivation is to do the right thing for the defence of the realm and for the best interests of the Armed Forces in Afghanistan.”

Sir Richard said that, while he could have agreed to act as an “independent adviser” he felt he could have more influence by joining a potential Tory government.

Mr Cameron’s speech was generally well received in the press, but his comment on quantitative easing prompted an angry reaction from David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank’s monetary policy committee.

During the speech, Mr Cameron suggested the process of printing money would have to stop, saying: “Soon that will have to stop because in the end printing money leads to inflation”.

Mr Blanchflower told the Daily Mail: “This is the most wildly dangerous thing I have seen in 100 years of economic policy in Britain.

“It could drive the economy into depression. This is the most bizarre set of economic policies I have ever heard.”

Chancellor Alistair Darling said any attempt to end the process now would crash the economy.

Meanwhile, in a speech to the Centre for European reform, Nick Clegg berated the Tories for the manner in which they reacted to the Lisbon treaty during the party conference this week.

“David Cameron is going to turn the clock back more than 30 years and repeat Harold Wilson’s foreign policy mistakes all over again,” Mr Clegg said.

“Instead of securing Britain’s interests in Europe and the world, Cameron and Hague will undermine them by scurrying from capital to capital begging for symbolic and pointless changes to EU institutions for cheap political benefit at home.”

William Hague used his keynote speech yesterday, just hours before Mr Cameron’s, to berate the Lisbon changes to the EU as undemocratic. Mr Cameron made similar comments during his leader’s speech.