LONDON: Britain’s Finance Minister, George Osborne, said yesterday the UK economy had turned a corner and that its recovery was a vindication of his focus on fixing public finances.
He accused his political opponents of promising a “disastrous” change of course from the austerity he has imposed.
Osborne, his eye on elections due in May 2015, declared the government as the winner of the long-running argument over the pace of spending cuts. In a direct rebuttal to the opposition Labour party, he said anyone who wanted to borrow more in order to spend now was “not fit for government”.
“The economic collapse was even worse than we thought. Repairing it will take even longer than we hoped. But we held our nerve when many told us to abandon our plan,” Osborne said in a speech to economists and the media.
“And as a result, thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of the British people, Britain is turning a corner,” he said at a London building site where construction had recently restarted.
Until now Osborne has been cautious about making political capital from the signs of life in Britain’s economy. But, calling on a growing body of economic evidence from recent months, he sounded his most upbeat note on the recovery yet.
“The evidence suggests tentative signs of a balanced, broad based and sustainable recovery, but we cannot take this for granted,” he said.
The opposition Labour party dismissed Osborne’s comments as an attempt to “rewrite history” and said his policies had stifled growth for three years.
Both Labour and the Conservatives are looking to set the agenda for their election campaigns at party conferences this month. Osborne used Monday’s speech to counter opposition claims that he had done little to tackle a decline in living standards.
The minister promised action to cut energy and water bills, transport costs and to reduce the cost of financial services.