Three Cabinet ministers said yesterday that people and businesses in Britain will have to "work harder" if the economy is to start growing again – comments Labour said would "infuriate" the public.
In an echo of Norman Tebbit's message for the unemployed to get "on your bike" to find work in the 1980s, Foreign Secretary William Hague said more graft was the only answer to Britain's economic woes.
His remarks were backed by the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who said there was only so much the Government could do to promote growth. The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond joined the debate by saying the problem lay in "whingeing" big company bosses refusing to take risks and increase employment. The Government seems to have been rattled by criticism from business that there were not enough growth-enhancing measures in last week's Queen's Speech.
Meanwhile, Mr Hammond yesterday became the first senior member of the Government to raise doubts over the Coalition's commitment to legislate for gay marriage, suggesting that the policy was too controversial and not enough of a priority.