Brown rises above cuts burden

Brown looks to recovery, but spending cut headache won't go away
Brown looks to recovery, but spending cut headache won't go away

By Alex Stevenson

Gordon Brown has laid out his vision for Britain's recovery in a major speech on the economy, but the threat of further public sector strikes is reminding voters of the spending cuts still to come.

The prime minister addressed a Canary Wharf audience this morning as he assessed the state of the economy, which official figures confirmed grew by 0.3% in the final quarter of 2009.

He confirmed a Budget would take place on March 24th.

"We dare not risk the recovery. For our task above all else is to preserve and expand the jobs - and lift the standards of life - of the British people," Mr Brown concluded.

"We are weathering the storm; now is no time to turn back. We will hold to our course. And we will complete this mission."

His attempts to frame the political agenda within the context of plans for a recovery were being undermined by the ongoing threat of further strike action from civil servants, however, after around 200,000 took industrial action earlier this week.

Their opposition to the spending cuts which must take place as a result of the huge levels of borrowing seen by the current government could have a major disruptive impact as the general election approaches.

The Public and Commercial Services union is even considering a short-term disruptive walkout as chancellor Alistair Darling announces the pre-election Budget later this month.

After its 48-hour strike earlier this week failed to produce large enough government concessions over proposed changes to the civil service compensation scheme, general secretary Mark Serwotka is set to announce further industrial action for next week by Friday.

But Mr Brown pressed his determination to overcome these difficulties as he concluded his speech this morning.

"We have got through this storm together but there are still substantial risks ahead," the prime minister concluded.

"There will be bumps in the road. And I believe the only way to overcome them is by displaying the same strength and resolve as we did during the crisis."


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.