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
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links