May election seems certain as Brown sets a budget date

Steve Dinneen
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GORDON Brown yesterday said there will be a budget on 24 May, making a 6 May election a racing certainty.

He yesterday set out his vision for guiding the UK through its tentative economic recovery. He vowed the UK would avoid the ignominy of losing its AAA credit rating and set out plans to cut public spending.

He said: “We will freeze pay for senior staff in the civil service, senior staff in the military, the judiciary, senior managers in the health service and the pay of consultants, GPs and dentists.” He claimed the freeze would save the UK at least £3bn by 2014.

He maintained the economy still faces pitfalls before swingeing cuts can be introduced, saying “recovery is still in its early stages” and remains fragile.

“There will be many months ahead of conflicting statistics, false hopes and mixed signals,” he said.

Brown said the government will stick to its current four-year debt reduction plan, which he will detail in the pre-election budget.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne was quick to slam Brown’s speech. He said: “The biggest risk to the British economy is five more years of Gordon Brown. That was confirmed today in a speech that offered no new ideas. His speech was derailed by new statistics showing manufacturing shrinking. His policies aren’t working and his plans for the future have been widely criticised by business leaders and credit rating agencies.”