'Swingeing' cuts ruled out by Cameron

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Indy Politics

David Cameron has softened his party's determination to slash public spending amid fears that his plan to make major cuts this year would plunge Britain back into recession.

The Conservatives had made their willingness to deliver cuts during their first year in office one of their headline policies and a key dividing line with Labour. But yesterday, the Tory leader appeared to signal a retreat on the pledge, claming that while he would "make a start" on lowering this year's predicted £178bn deficit, he would not make "swingeing cuts" to existing spending programmes.

His change in tone delighted opposition parties, who are confident that Tory policies will come unstuck when put under pressure. "We're not talking about swingeing cuts. We're talking about making a start in reducing our deficit," he told the BBC.

Vince Cable, the Treasury spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said that the Tories were in a "terrible muddle" over their plans for the economy. In an internet broadcast, Gordon Brown said the Government would not be "pulling the rug from under the recovery" by reducing spending immediately.