CBI to Clegg: carry on with cuts to deficit

Julian Harris
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THE BUSINESS community gave a clear message to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg last night – “Keep calm, and carry on!”

The coalition government’s deficit reduction plan was given an uncompromising endorsement at the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) annual dinner.

“Deficit reduction was the only way,” CBI president Helen Alexander told the assembled diners.

And the deputy prime minister responded by insisting there would be “no blinking” on the consolidation of government finances.

“Critics on the left still feign outrage at the Lib Dems for signing up to the deficit reduction plan,” Clegg said. “Well, we didn’t just sign up to the plan – we co-wrote it, we believe in it, and we stand by that.”

The UK was on a perilous path prior to the coalition government’s plans, with businesses fearing further financial and economic disaster, Alexander had earlier said.

“Our future feels more secure than it did a couple of years ago,” she added. “It’s easy to forget just how bad things seemed.

“Now, we’re moving in the right direction.”

Alexander rounded on “noisy economists who think we’re going to hell in a handcart” because of the cuts. “We take a different view,” she said, signalling a cautious yet optimistic outlook for the economy.

But businesses must be unfettered from burdensome regulation, Alexander said, while also calling for secure energy policy, and strong laws over troublesome strikes.

“Your intentions have been good,” she told the deputy prime minister. “But it’s taking too long to get there.”