David Cameron delivered a fresh salvo on Gordon Brown's handling of the economy, comparing the Prime Minister to the Luftwaffe during the Second World War.
In a statement designed to draw the economic battlelines between Labour and the Conservatives, the Tory leader mocked Mr Brown's call for people to invoke the spirit of the Second World War to weather the economic storms. "The Prime Minister tells us to find our Blitz spirit when he is the one dropping the bombs – the tax and debt bombshells that are taking Britain to the brink of bankruptcy," he said.
Mr Cameron said the Prime Minister would "deepen and lengthen" the recession through his policy of increasing borrowing, which had helped to break the UK economy and take it to "the brink of bankruptcy".
Labour reacted angrily, accusing Mr Cameron of "doing nothing" to help families.
The Tory leader pledged to rebuild the economy "brick by brick", adding: "People can see that Labour have been in power too long. They have been corrupted by power and their arrogance means they cannot now see their mistakes, let alone correct them. It's no surprise that the person who helped break our economy and our society won't admit they are broken.
"It's no surprise that a Prime Minister whose decisions over a decade helped cause the debt crisis; who failed to prepare the country for the gathering storm and whose irresponsible extra borrowing will now deepen and lengthen the recession turns round and tells us the recession will be a test of everyone else's character."
Mr Cameron's message presages a new year assault on the Government's handling of the economy. He said yesterday that Labour had "lost its moral compass", adding: "Where is the morality in trying to reflate the bubble and return the country to the age of irresponsibility that led us to this mess? For us, the strong economy of the future will be built on a strong and responsible society.
"The Emperor Hadrian, when asked how Rome would be rebuilt after a devastating fire, replied: 'Brick by brick, my citizens, brick by brick.' That is how we will rebuild our broken economy and our broken society: business by business, family by family, community by community."
David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said the Conservatives had "no answers at all" to the "fundamental questions on the economy or welfare or public services".
He told the BBC that the Tories had "surfed various waves of discontent over the last two or three years", and: "Their recipe in the end has been the old Tory mantra that we should leave it to the market, even when it has been market failures that have caused the problem."
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