Brown: UK economy like injured Rooney

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Indy Politics

A day before he is expected to announced a national election, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that only his Labour Party can be trusted to nurture Britain's fragile economic recovery.

In a podcast on the 10 Downing St. Web site, Brown said Conservative plans to cut public spending risk tipping the economy back into recession.

Brown defended a planned hike to national insurance, a tax paid by employees and employers. The opposition Conservatives have said they will scrap the tax increase and implement immediate public spending cuts if they win the election.

Brown compared the economy to injured soccer star Wayne Rooney, saying that "after an injury, you need support to recover. ... If you withdraw support too early, you risk doing more damage."

Manchester United player Rooney is recovering from ligament damage to his ankle, and his injury has worried fans who are looking ahead to June's soccer World Cup.

Britain must hold an election by 3 June. Brown is expected to announce Tuesday that it will be held 6 May. He will travel to Buckingham Palace and ask Queen Elizabeth II to dissolve Parliament so campaigning can start.

The economy is likely to dominate the campaign as Britain emerges from its deepest recession in decades. All the main parties say they will trim spending and slash the country's £167bn pound deficit, but they differ on how deep, and how soon, to make cuts.

Last week almost 40 business leaders, including Virgin boss Richard Branson, said they supported the Conservative plan to scrap the tax increase.