That was starting to morph from an intervention into a speech. It did not require a great genius to see the fallacies in the bubble economy that was being created, and I was one of many people who saw the problem. However, the hon. Gentleman is getting to the issue of my position, which was also raised from the Opposition Front Bench, so let me deal with the question of cuts, the timing and what the sensible response is. The motion refers to a
"critical moment in the...cycle," and talks about recovery being fragile, and it is fragile. There are risks in both directions. If there are rapid cuts in public spending, they of course run the risk of having an impact on growth; we all understand that, but there is the risk on the other side that if we did nothing or delayed taking action, there would be a serious crisis of confidence in the economy because of the sovereign risk crisis that is rolling around Europe.
I was specifically challenged to say why I had changed my mind on the subject, and I will tell the hon. Gentleman when I changed my mind. Before I entered this Government, I spoke at some length to some of the key decision makers in the UK, including the head of the Treasury, and we also had advice from the Governor of the Bank of England. Their advice was unequivocal: in the circumstances that we entered, we had absolutely no alternative but to act decisively and quickly. I always made it clear in opposition that we had to act rationally. We had to take account of growth on the one hand and sovereign risk on the other. Those factors had to be balanced. We have balanced them, and we came to the decision that early action was essential in the light of the circumstances that exist. That was objectively based on the evidence in the economy.
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