By politics.co.uk staff
Ken Clarke has admitted it will be "very difficult" when the middle classes finally realise how severe upcoming spending cuts will be.
The justice secretary singled out "Middle England" as he continued to give downbeat assessments of the UK economy's performance.
He ruled out a swift recovery and called the economy "calamitous". GDP contracted in the final quarter of 2010 by 0.5%.
"One reason we're going to get some political difficulty is that [while] the public knows we're got to do something about it, I don't think Middle England has quite taken on board the scale of the problem," he told the Telegraph newspaper.
"That will emerge as the cuts start coming home this year."
Mr Clarke said the coalition would press on with spending cuts, which averaged 19% across all government departments in the comprehensive spending review, nonetheless.
"We've got to get on with it [but] it's going to be very difficult," he added.
"If someone says it's not as bad as all that, I say [they] just don't realise the calamitous position we're in."