Osborne: 'Coalition united on deficit cut'

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Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are "as united... as we have ever been" in their determination to cut Britain's deficit and deliver economic stability and recovery, Chancellor George Osborne said today.

Speaking on the first anniversary of the coalition Government, Mr Osborne said the Tory/Lib Dem partnership had succeeded in delivering economic stability at home and confidence abroad, and would continue to do so for the next four years.

Its success could be seen in the interest rates paid by British companies and consumers, which were lower than most European neighbours despite the size of the UK's debts.

"We have the interest rates of Germany despite having a bigger budget deficit than Greece or Portugal," said the Chancellor. "That is our achievement."

In a speech to the Institute of Directors in east London, Mr Osborne said: "Let me make this clear on the first anniversary of this coalition. We in this Government - Conservatives and Liberal Democrats - are as united in our mission to reduce Britain's deficit as we have ever been.

"We are unwavering in our commitment to economic stability and recovery, last year, this year and for the four years to come.

"Every business in this country depends on a strong Government and a strong economic policy and this coalition Government will deliver just that for the next four years."

Mr Osborne told the IoD Britain had been in "a moment of real economic danger" at the time of last year's general election.

"It was a moment of real economic danger but together we overcame it," said the Chancellor. "We formed a strong coalition Government and we put a firm commitment to tackle the nation's debts at its heart.

"I believe we have brought much-needed stability at home and attracted near-universal confidence abroad."

Mr Osborne said the Government would continue to be "unequivocally pro-business".

He told the IoD: "Our approach is based on the simple truth that if you succeed, we succeed and the country will succeed.

"By promoting enterprise and rewarding aspiration, we will enable you - the wealth creators of Britain - to generate the jobs and the growth that our country needs."

He added: "While we must be realistic about the challenge, I think we can be optimistic about the future."

Despite economic "headwinds" such as rising commodity prices, earthquakes in Japan and uncertainty in the eurozone, "progress has been made in the 12 months since the Government came to office", said Mr Osborne.

"Four hundred thousand private sector jobs have been created over that period; 89,000 people have come off the unemployment rolls; manufacturing is up almost 5%; business investment is up 11%; export values are up 16%.

"I'm glad that the Bank of England is today forecasting a steady recovery. As the Bank governor said this morning, they expect that the recent softness in activity will prove temporary.

"This is all part of an essential rebalancing of our economy from imports to exports, from debt to investment, from public to private. It lays the foundation for the competitive, business-led growth that we need to see."