Osborne drags debate back to the deficit

By politics.co.uk staff

George Osborne has dragged political debate back to the deficit, with a speech which made “Gordon Brown’s debt” central to the Tory campaign.

Mr Osborne used the Mais lecture to outline Tory plans for tackling the deficit.

An independent audit of public finances would take place immediately after the Tories attained power and any measures to tackle the deficit would come from it together with forecasts for growth, the shadow chancellor pledged.

An emergency budget would take place within 50 days setting out the overall approach to the year ahead.

“There is no choice between going for growth today and dealing with our debts tomorrow,” he said.

“Indeed we will not have any meaningful growth unless we show we can deal with our debts.

“For it is the lack of a credible plan to deal with the deficit that is already pushing up market interest rates, undermining the monetary stimulus that is supporting the economy, and sapping the confidence of investors and consumers.”

The speech comes after several days in which the deficit and public spending have drifted to the margins of debate.

The Lib Dems said Mr Osborne was out of his depth.

“Slashing spending now could push the economy back into recession and inflict further structural damage on the UK that will make it harder to sustain our credit rating,” said Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable.

Labour said he was talking down the economy.