Thu, Jan 02, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Cameron forecasts turn-around year for UK

‘TIMES’ PIECE:The British leader warned of more difficult decisions and against a return to a policy of more borrowing and spending, while making a dig at France

AFP, LONDON

British Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday boasted that Britain would become a post-recession flagship this year, in what was reported as a swipe at France’s “disastrous” economic policies.

Writing in the Times newspaper, Cameron said Britain was a country on the rise as he warned against “the great mistakes that led up to the great recession — more borrowing, more spending and more debt.”

Though Cameron did not name the “countries currently following that approach,” the Times said it was a “swipe at France” and an “apparent gibe” at French President Francois Hollande.

“Cameron’s dig at France in warning over debt,” the paper said on its front page.

His remarks “will be widely interpreted as an attack on Mr Hollande, who is under pressure as France’s economy continues to struggle,” the daily said.

Cameron wrote: “2014 is when we start to turn Britain into the flagship post-great recession success story.

“With record numbers of new businesses, we can be the enterprise capital of Europe,” he wrote.

NO GOING BACK

“We must not resurrect the dangerous thinking that got us into the mess from which we are now recovering,” the center-right Conservative leader said.

Blaming the previous center-left Labour government, which lost power in 2010, he said the British economy contracted by 7.2 percent during the economic downturn.

“If you doubt how disastrous a return to Labour-style economics would be, just look at countries that are currently following that approach,” he wrote.

“They face increasing unemployment, industrial stagnation and enterprise in free-fall. The opposite of what’s happening here,” he said.

“Our recovery is real, but it’s also fragile, and there are more difficult decisions ahead. A return to that economic madness would devastate this country,” he said.

FRENCH OUTLOOK

While Britain is predicting economic growth of 1.4 percent for last year and 2.4 percent this year, France’s national economics statistics institute INSEE predicted growth of 0.2 percent for last year, while the country’s belt-tightening budget is based on projected growth of 0.9 percent this year.

France’s economy contracted 0.1 percent in the third quarter of last year.

Socialist French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said last month that his government would not copy British economic policies, saying they had created poverty and inequality.

In Britain, unemployment has hit a four-year low, at 7.4 percent.

INSEE said the French unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percent in the three months to September last year to 10.5 percent.

Cameron said his government would reduce the national deficit further this year, cut income taxes, slash red tape for small businesses and invest in infrastructure projects.

He pledged to cap Britain’s overall welfare budget.

“New year is a time for resolutions. Here’s mine: to make 2014 the year in which Britain begins to rise,” he said.

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