Setting the stage for a looming general election, Britain’s finance minister has unveiled a budget he hopes will win vital votes.
With the UK’s record budget deficit uppermost in many minds, the House of Commons heard Alistair Darling pledge to lower borrowing and boost growth.
“This budget will set out a route for the country to long-term prosperity,” said Darling, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. “At its heart is a £2.5bn one-off growth package, to help small business, promote innovation, invest in national infrastructure and key skills.”
Not surprisingly, the opposition Conservatives were unimpressed, accusing the ruling Labour Party of stealing their ideas.
“He came in as Chancellor copying our Inheritance Tax cut”, Conservative leader David Cameron told parliament. “He leaves as Chancellor copying our Stamp Duty cut. The only new ideas on British politics are coming from this side of the House.
And the only things that Labour are bringing are debt, waste and taxes.”
For critics, it is all too little, too late. With an election expected in May, Gordon Brown won’t have long to wait for public reaction to the budget and his premiership. Most opinion polls now point to a hung parliament where no party has a majority.