Osborne blames Brown for 'economic disaster'

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Indy Politics

Shadow chancellor George Osborne said today's £37bn bank rescue package was "no triumph" for the Government and accused the Prime Minister Gordon Brown of "presiding over the biggest economic disaster of our lifetime".

Three of Britain's biggest banks were thrown a £37bn lifeline by the Government as part of a dramatic taxpayer rescue of the UK's banking system.

In an article for the Evening Standard, Mr Osborne said it was necessary to rescue the banking system in order to protect the wider economy.

But he added: "To regard today as a triumph, as some in Government seem to do, is bizarre. And it misjudges the public mood.

"For this is no triumph. It is a necessary but desperate last-ditch attempt to avoid catastrophe.

"Let us sincerely hope that the billions of pounds of public funds we are putting at risk today do the job, bring some semblance of calm to the financial markets and start the credit flowing again through the veins of the economy.

"That shouldn't prevent us from seeing this for what it is: the final, sorry chapter of the age of irresponsibility; the moment when Gordon Brown was finally forced to confront the consequences of building a 10-year economic boom on a mountain of debt."

Mr Osborne said Conservatives would live up to leader David Cameron's promise to work constructively with other political parties to resolve the current crisis.

And he added: "I can promise you, Prime Minister, that we'll help you with the emergency action to save the banks, but we will hold you to account for your failures.

"You presided over the biggest economic disaster of our lifetime and we will not let you forget it."

Mr Cameron said he supported the moves, adding: "It's not a day to be triumphant, not a day for celebration.

"It's necessary, what's been done.

"It's painful, it's expensive, and in many ways it's the day that the bills came in for a decade of too much borrowing."

The Tory leader was speaking after he emerged from the HBOS offices in Halifax, West Yorkshire, following a half-hour meeting with staff.