Darling accuses Osborne of giving up on restoring UK growth

  • @andymcsmith

Alistair Darling has accused his successor George Osborne of giving up on restoring growth to the economy.

In an open letter, the ex-Chancellor urged Mr Osborne to acknowledge that with Britain one of just two of the world's 20 richest nations in recession, the policies he has pursued since 2010 have not worked. Mr Darling said: "You and the Bank of England seem to have given up on any plan for growth. It's as if you're both saying there's nothing you can do and nature must take its course. But the damage that will do to our country is immeasurable. You need another plan. Call it Plan B. Call it whatever you like. But unless you do something now it will be years before we recover."

In his letter, published in the Sunday People, Mr Darling argued for more investment in public projects like house building, replacing old power stations, improving the railways, and building a third runway at Heathrow. The call for big public projects echoes sentiments expressed last week by London's Mayor, Boris Johnson.

But Mr Osborne has other pressures on him, because, according to yesterday's Sunday Times, Treasury officials are warning that another round of public-sector cuts will be needed on account of a drop in tax receipts.

Mr Cameron is reported to be rethinking the Government's opposition to construction of a £30bn barrage across the Severn, which could create 20,000 jobs. The Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, and Cabinet Office Minister, Oliver Letwin, have been asked to look at a new proposal which would not involve state funding because it has Middle East investors behind it, and is reputedly less damaging to the environment.