Exclusive: Resolute Lamont accuses 'the alibi society'

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The Independent Online
An unrepentant Norman Lamont has staked out his claim to stay on as Chancellor of the Exchequer through the next Cabinet reshuffle, declaring he had an 'immense amount to do, and my mind is not on any other job'.

In an exclusive interview with the Independent on Sunday before Tuesday's Budget he publicly defended for the first time his refusal to resign after Black Wednesday. 'The last thing I did was just cling to office because I wanted to.'

Of the unprecedented barrage of press criticism, he said: 'Obviously it has been difficult, but my family have been extremely supportive. I get upset when they are upset, but I have had a job to do and I've expected to be criticised.

'I think this country is a bit of an alibi society. They want to think it's someone's fault or there are buttons to be pressed . . . The idea that you press a few buttons and the economy behaves in a particular way should have gone out of the window many years ago.'

He also spoke of:

Green shoots - his statement to the Tory Party conference in October 1991 that the 'green shoots of economic spring' were appearing. 'My wife made the best point at the time. She advised me not to use it because you don't see green shoots in the autumn.' But, he said, many others had shared his optimism at the time.

His public image: 'I find I get a perfectly friendly reception from the public wherever I go, which just shows a lot of words are written and printed and have not much effect.'

His rivals for the Chancellorship. Kenneth Clarke and Michael Howard, staunch friends from Cambridge days, are being tipped to take his job from him. 'Nothing of this kind would ever lead me to quarrel with my friends . . . their friendship matters just as much as any job.'

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