Government denies rift over economy

Gordon Brown today brushed off speculation about the future of Chancellor Alistair Darling following his warning that the economy was facing possibly the worst downturn in 60 years.





The Prime Minister, attending the EU emergency summit on Georgia in Brussels, told reporters: "We are getting on with the business of government."



Mr Brown emphasised that the current economic difficulties were due to the "unique circumstances" of the trebling of world oil prices combined with the international credit crunch.



"We are showing that, unlike previous governments that could not manage a way through these difficulties successfully, that we are resilient in the way that we deal with these problems," he said.



"I think that you will find that the actions that we have taken and the actions that we are taking are actions that are designed to help the British people get through what is a difficult world economic downturn."













Mr Brown's comments came after Conservative leader David Cameron accused the Chancellor of "talking the economy down".



In an interview published in The Guardian on Saturday, Mr Darling admitted voters were "p***** off" with the Labour Government and said economic conditions were "arguably the worst they've been in 60 years".



Although he later took to the airwaves to insist he was referring to international conditions and not the state of Britain's domestic economy, his startlingly negative comments sparked speculation that he would have to slash his forecast for economic growth in the upcoming Budget.



Commentators said he may have put his job on the line in any reshuffle by risking overshadowing the political fightback campaign planned by Mr Brown for the coming weeks.



Mr Cameron told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's an extraordinary situation that we've got a Chancellor of the Exchequer effectively talking the economy right down."



The Tory leader added: "As we stand at the moment, I think it is too difficult to say whether this is the worst situation for 60 years.



"I think it's extraordinary that the Chancellor said it - because the Chancellor of the Exchequer has got to think not only 'I must tell the truth at all times' but also 'I must use my words carefully so that I don't create a situation that's even worse'."



Downing Street rejected reports of tension between Mr Darling and Mr Brown over the comments.



Mr Brown's spokesman insisted the Prime Minister has "full confidence" in his Chancellor and was working closely with him on a package of measures designed to help those hit by rising prices and the sluggish housing market.



Mr Brown will tomorrow join Communities Secretary Hazel Blears to unveil new help for first-time home-buyers and people facing the risk of repossession, and further announcements are expected shortly to ease the pressure of high fuel prices.



The Prime Minister is expected to paint a rosier picture of Britain's economic prospects when he addresses the CBI on Thursday.



According to The Guardian, he will say: "In the next 20 years, the world economy will double in its size and wealth and we have a great opportunity to win new business, new jobs and prosperity for Britain."



Mr Brown has long been expected to use the early weeks of September to set out an economic recovery package designed to allay voters' concerns over the credit crunch and rising prices and shore up Labour's standing in the polls ahead of the party conference season.



Looking ahead to the expected announcements on housing and fuel, his spokesman said today: "We have already taken action in relation to housing and the mortgage market. We have already taken action in relation to helping people with their fuel bills. As the Prime Minister and other ministers have been saying in recent weeks, we want to continue to see what more we can do to help those affected."



Meanwhile, Schools Secretary Ed Balls brushed off suggestions that he was angling for Mr Darling's job.



Launching a new curriculum for under-fives, Mr Balls said: "I think we've got a really good Chancellor in Alistair Darling and I can't think of any more important job I could have than making sure that the children in our country are equipped to learn."



He added that Mr Darling was "right" to "set out the challenges we face but also that we've got the strengths and experience and confidence to deal with difficult times".



Asked later by Channel 4 News whether Foreign Secretary David Miliband was after the Prime Minister's job, Mr Balls said: "I've known him (Miliband) for very many years and I know that he is a sensible, rational, sane politician, and a good guy, and I don't think that he would ever do anything so crazy, destructive and divisive, and that is why I am totally confident that's not what he was doing."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Administrator - Chinese Speaking

£17000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly growing company is...

Recruitment Genius: Start a Career as a Financial Markets Trader

£40000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Become a professional Trader a...

Recruitment Genius: Software Implementation Consultant

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks