ED MILIBAND yesterday refused ten times to admit he would borrow more money if he was Prime Minister, in a troubled interview following the launch of six key economic pledges.
Earlier the Labour leader unveiled an alternative Queen’s Speech proposing a new housebuilding programme, tax cuts for the low paid, and a new British Investment Bank.
But speaking to Martha Kearney on the BBC’s World at One, Miliband struggled to give a direct response to questions on how he would fund the pledges.
Asked whether he would increase public borrowing if he was in Downing Street, Miliband replied: “I don’t accept that borrowing would be higher under a Labour government because borrowing would be lower over the medium term.”
Miliband insisted that his plan for a temporary cut in the VAT rate to 17.5 per cent – which would cost the Treasury £12bn a year – would fund itself through increased sales.
The Labour leader also said he would consider whether wealthy pensioners should continue to receive access to benefits such as free TV licenses. But aides later insisted that he had spoken out of line and such universal benefits were here to stay.
The interview came ahead of Thursday’s local elections, where Labour and Ukip are expected to make gains at the expense of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
Yesterday Ukip leader Nigel Farage hit back against claims by Tory minister Ken Clarke that some of his party’s supporters were racist. The Eurosceptic party could win as many as 100 council seats.