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Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Sunday, 4 October 2009 12:53 UK

Cameron targets Europe and budget

On Sunday 4 October Andrew Marr interviewed Conservative Party Leader David Cameron MP.

Please note 'The Andrew Marr Show' must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

ANDREW MARR:

David Cameron

And so the main event of the morning. I'm joined now by the Leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron. Welcome, Mr Cameron. And you have given us some rousing words to start with. You say in The Telegraph today that you favour "straight talk" and "radical new leadership". So with straight talk ringing in our ears, let me ask you about Europe. It is now overwhelmingly likely that by the time you come to power, if you do in the spring, the Lisbon Treaty will have been ratified. That's what the polls are saying, that's what the Czechs are saying after the Irish results. So what are you going to do then?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well we want to have a referendum. I mean I think people in this country will be frustrated and angry that Ireland has been able to vote twice on a treaty that changes the way we're governed and yet we haven't been able to vote once. So I want us to hold that referendum and that's why we've said that as long as this treaty is being debated or discussed anywhere in Europe, we will keep that pledge to hold that referendum. And if those are the circumstances that are there at the next election, we'll name the date, we'll hold that referendum, we'll lead the campaign for a no campaign.

ANDREW MARR:

So even if it's been formally ratified, if it's being discussed - as I'm sure it will be in this country at that stage - you will hold a referendum?

DAVID CAMERON:

What we're saying is that at the moment, yes of course the Irish have now voted yes at the second time of asking, but the Czechs have not yet ratified the treaty, the Poles have not yet ratified the treaty. And as long as this treaty hasn't been ratified everywhere in Europe, then we will pledge to hold that referendum.

ANDREW MARR:

But, as you know, you're not answering the obvious and direct and likely question, which is once it's ratified what then? And I put it to you that you're not answering it because you don't know what to do.

DAVID CAMERON:

No, there's a very good reason for saying what we're saying, which is that I don't want to say anything or do anything now that would undermine or prejudice what is happening in other countries where they're still debating whether to ratify this treaty. That is a very sensible thing to do and so if those …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But if you … Sorry, I can just stop you there. If you said actually do you know what, whatever happens I'm going to give the British people the right to decide - perhaps, like Boris Johnson suggests, there will be a question about actually leaving Europe on the ballot paper as well - before we get to Tony Blair as President and all the rest of it, I promise that whatever happens the British people are going to have a right to decide. That would make early ratification less likely, so it would play into what you say you want. So why won't you say it?

DAVID CAMERON:

Because we have the right answer, which is to say - at the danger of repeating myself - that as long as this hasn't been ratified by everyone round Europe, it is then possible to have that referendum, we'd hold that referendum. And the reason for not speculating now about the future is, as I say, I don't want to undermine or prejudice those people elsewhere in Europe who are currently debating …

ANDREW MARR:

I don't understand this. Explain more.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well I don't see what's so complicated. I mean it hasn't been ratified. There were three countries it hadn't been ratified in - Ireland, the Czech Republic and Poland. There are now two. So I don't see any reason to change our approach because one of those has now decided to ratify.

ANDREW MARR:

Well the Czechs are now suggesting that it will be ratified by Christmas.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well the Czech Prime Minister talked about three to six months, and obviously if it's six months that takes you pretty much up to the General Election in this country and we'll be able to have that referendum. So, as I say, this is the right …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But you won't have the referendum if the treaty is ratified?

DAVID CAMERON:

What I've said is that as long as it is being debated or discussed …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) It's just this is the most obvious out… the likeliest outcome is something that matters hugely to your party. 60 odd percent of your party want the chance to repatriate powers and you know look again at our relationship with Europe. The public are you know in a fairly similar place at the moment. Your MPs are too. And yet the likely situation is that you will come to power, if you do - perhaps Tony Blair will be there as President of the European Union - and the treaty will be ratified and there won't be much you can do.

DAVID CAMERON:

But, Andrew, with respect this is exactly what people said to me a year ago, a year and a half ago. They said, "You know, this treaty's going to be ratified. It's going to be implemented". Actually we then had the Irish Referendum, we have the delay taking place in the Czech Republic, the delay taking place in Poland. I think for that reason, it makes sense to say … Be clear. I want to have a referendum. I don't think this is a good …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Well say you're going to have one then, surely.

DAVID CAMERON:

… I don't think this is a good treaty. I think it is centralising …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) If you want to have a referendum, have a referendum.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well I've set out exactly what we're going to do, and if those circumstances change I'll happily come back on your programme and explain exactly what we'll do.

ANDREW MARR:

Well a lot of people watching will say the reason he can't say that he's going to have a referendum if the Lisbon Treaty's ratified is because it's going to be too disruptive, it's too much of a big issue, it's going to cause too much anger among European parties.

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) I think … I'm not sure. I think people watching will understand this argument that while there are other countries actually delaying the implementation of this treaty, don't do anything or say anything that stops them from doing that. Stick to your pledge for the referendum and explain. I think people …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But as I said before, if you said you were going to have a referendum that would delay the treaty being ratified. It's certainly not going to speed it up. So why the silence? I just don't understand.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well I can only … I mean I can set the answer to music, if you like, but that is … You know I think people will understand that you don't want to prejudice or undermine people who currently have said we're going through our own ratification process. I think people at home will also be wondering well are they going to ask me questions about anything else.

ANDREW MARR:

Well there's plenty of time for that. I wouldn't worry.

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) Good.

ANDREW MARR:

Staying with Europe for the time being, however, you've fallen out pretty badly with Angela Merkel's CDU. They've broken off links with you as a party. They don't like the grouping that you're going into at the moment. And there is clearly a fresh drive towards a sort of Franco-German fast track core of Europe. Are you content with a situation where we are on the sidelines?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well I don't agree with your description of what is happening. I have a very good relationship with Angela Merkel who I've met several times. A good relationship with President Sarkozy in France. But it's a relationship based on frank, honest and candid …

ANDREW MARR:

Disagreements.

DAVID CAMERON:

… talk about the things where we agree - and there are many areas where we do agree - and also about the areas where we disagree. And the reason I took the Conservatives out of the European People's Party and formed a new group in Europe is I wanted us to actually say the same thing whether we are in Manchester or in London or in Brussels, which is we want to be members of the European Union but we want it to be an association of states trading and cooperating. We do not want it to become a country called Europe.

ANDREW MARR:

Would it …

DAVID CAMERON:

And that I think is … For the first time … What is exciting is for the first time in the European Union now, there is actually a group of parties that say yes, we want to be in this union but we want to reform it. We want to make sure it's an association of states rather than endless centralisation of power. That is actually standing up for millions of people not just in Britain but all across Europe who take that view. And the argument … (Marr tries to interject) One last point because I think this is important. And the argument I've always made with Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy is actually we will be now friendly neighbours of the EPP. We'll work together where we agree rather than unhappy tenants. And do you know the first thing we did as this new group? We voted with the EPP to make Mr Barosso the President … the Commissioner again because we think he's doing a good job. So that's a good example of actually being constructive and having influence in Europe.

ANDREW MARR:

Would it, would it be a disaster if this country was friendly neighbours with the EU rather than being a full member of this federal body?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well that's not what I want. I want us to be …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) That's what I asked. Would it be disaster?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well it would not be as good as what we should have …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Have had.

DAVID CAMERON:

… which is what we should have, which is being members of the European Union but trying to take Europe in the right direction.

ANDREW MARR:

If you can't negotiate a slightly looser relationship and repatriate some of those powers, as your party desperately want to do - if they simply say "No, I'm terribly sorry, after all this process the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified, we can't go back to all of that, terribly sorry" - if that's the situation, would you look again at our fundamental relationship with the EU?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well I don't believe in going into any situation or any negotiation thinking that you're going to fail. I mean Margaret Thatcher was told frequently, "You'll never get any money back from Europe. That's not the way it works. You just have to give in and take what you're given". I don't accept that. I think that there … We bring a lot to the European Union.

ANDREW MARR:

So what would you like back from Europe?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well we've said that we think that the social and employment legislation, we think that's an area that ought to be determined nationally rather than at the European level. There are many things in the Lisbon Treaty - giving more power over home affairs and justice - that we don't think is right. We think Lisbon, the problem with it, is that it's taking powers away from the nation states, centralising them in Europe. We don't think that's the right approach. And …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) We should move onto other things, we should move onto other things.

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) But I think what you can see is there's a real clear and consistent line - whether it's which party you should be a member of in Europe, what you're saying about the European constitution - there's a really clear and consistent line that has come all the way … And you know when Gordon Brown …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Except that you don't know what to do if the treaty is ratified. You may very well have to swallow President Tony Blair. How would that feel?

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) Well bad because we don't want a President of Europe. I don't think that's the right approach. One last point on this, which is you know the Labour government, the Labour Prime Minister promised us a referendum. They have backed out of that promise and let the British people down. I think that is …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) And now you're promising us a referendum, but not really.

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) … that is a very important point. It's a very important point and not a point that, as far as I can see, was raised with Gordon Brown at all.

ANDREW MARR:

But you've offered a referendum. You say, you know you're giving the rhetoric of a referendum - I want a referendum - but actually when you look at the detail you're not offering a referendum.

DAVID CAMERON:

I couldn't have described it more clearly.

ANDREW MARR:

Well that's, with respect, possibly the problem. Let's move onto welfare, which is your big announcement of the moment. Talk us through actually how this new plan to get people back to work is going to differ from what Labour are already doing?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well I think we face a twin crisis in this country. We've got a debt crisis, which I'm sure we'll talk about later, but we also have a very, very serious jobs crisis. We've now got two and a half million people unemployed, one in five of young people can't find job. If you add up actually all the people on out of work benefits, it comes to something like 5 million people. And if you look across Europe, there isn't a country in Europe that has more children growing up in a household where nobody works than Britain. It's a very serious crisis. What we are doing is making it the centrepiece of our conference - a really massive get Britain working programme. And at the heart of it is a very big change from what Labour … Labour are now the party of unemployment. I want the new Conservative party to be the party of jobs and opportunity. And at the heart of it is a big, bold and radical scheme to get millions of people back to work.

ANDREW MARR:

So what's the difference?

DAVID CAMERON:

Right, the difference is many more people, millions more people will be included in our plans because we're looking at all the people who are currently on incapacity benefit as well as the unemployed.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But Labour are already going through those people.

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) Hang on, hang on a second. They're not. They've had one pilot scheme. They are not going through those people. So it's millions more people. We want to get the help to people more quickly. Labour aren't helping young unemployed people until 10 months. We want to help them at 6 months. We want to help the people on incapacity benefit immediately. Much more aggressive about using the voluntary and private sectors. Much more aggressive about payment by results. Tearing up the Treasury rules, so you can actually use the savings from getting people back to work to reward those who are putting people into work. And very specific …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But this is …

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) Hold on, one last point.

ANDREW MARR:

Yuh.

DAVID CAMERON:

Very specific pledges: about 200,000 extra apprenticeships; about 10,000 extra university places next year - vital because of the problems we face; 100,000 extra places for FE colleges. It is the big centrepiece of our conference because we recognise the jobs crisis is one of the most serious things we face as a country. If we don't deal with it, it's not just bad for those people who are unemployed now, but there's a danger that short-term unemployment becomes long-term unemployment and builds up massive problems for our families and for our country for the future.

ANDREW MARR:

But I thought that you were against the reflationary package, the money being put into the economy now, which is sustaining and protecting so many jobs.

DAVID CAMERON:

What we are against is that Labour's welfare schemes have been patchy, have been incomplete. They've got so many different schemes pulling in different directions. And they've never really bitten the bullet of proper welfare reform where you've got to get the private and voluntary sectors involved, you've got to pay them by results so they get rewarded if they get people in work and keep them in work.

ANDREW MARR:

How much is this going to cost?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well we're taking all of Labour's programmes - things like the New Deal and the failed Train to Gain schemes - and using that money. And there's also an upfront cost, and we'll be very clear in our document that we release tomorrow exactly how we pay for it and where every last penny of the money comes from.

ANDREW MARR:

What is the upfront cost?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well there's a £600 million upfront cost and we'll show the very tough and difficult choices we're going to make to meet that. One last point about this. We've also … One of the reasons we're able to bring this together is David Freud, who I think has done the best work on welfare, who was working for the government but really frustrated that his plans weren't being implemented in a proper and coordinated way, he is now working for us and with Theresa May to produce what is a very radical, very, very coordinated plan. And you'll see it launched tomorrow, you know not by … One of the problems is these welfare gurus can sort of bounce around in government, being promoted by one minister or another minister. You're going to see Kenneth Clarke, George Osborne, Michael Gove, Theresa May, all of the team backing this plan and showing how …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) And on this plan …

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) … and showing how their departments will come in behind it and really make it work.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) And on this plan, can you guarantee that the year's training available for everybody now will continue?

DAVID CAMERON:

Oh, this is much bolder than that …

ANDREW MARR:

More than that.

DAVID CAMERON:

… because instead of, instead of saying to young people you've got to wait 10 months till we help you, we're going to help you after 6 months. And instead of just pilot schemes for people on incapacity benefit, we're actually going to go through … There's 2.6 million people and I think everybody knows …

ANDREW MARR:

Yes, sure.

DAVID CAMERON:

… that some of those people cannot work and must be helped, and we are a compassionate society and we must look after those people. But many people could work. And there are some who with some tailored help would be able to work. And one of the failures of Labour's schemes is that the reward for getting people into work is pretty much the same, so the companies doing it always go after the easy cases.

ANDREW MARR:

Right. You say that you're going to radically cut back public spending to deal with the deficit. Given what you've said about unemployment, how many people are going to lose their jobs as a result of that?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well we don't want people to lose their jobs, but we have … the real danger to the British economy is not dealing with the deficit. The real danger to the British economy is just pretending it's not there. I mean I watched the Labour conference last week …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Yes, but …

DAVID CAMERON:

Hang on, this is really important. The Prime Minister said almost nothing about the biggest problem that any British government has faced for probably 40 years. Next year, we are forecast to borrow 14% of our national product. That is twice as high as in 1976 when Britain virtually went bust and Denis Healey had to go to the IMF. I think it is the height of irresponsibility as the leader of a country, faced with a problem like that, to say virtually nothing.

ANDREW MARR:

So given that …

DAVID CAMERON:

We are going to take …

ANDREW MARR:

… can I come back to my question, which is how many people watching out there are going to lose their jobs as a result of the cuts that you're going to make? You must know the number.

DAVID CAMERON:

No, I don't accept the premise of your question. The danger …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) What that nobody's going to lose their job?

DAVID CAMERON:

The danger more … The danger of people losing their jobs is if we don't deal with this deficit. Why? Because interest rates will go up, because taxes will have to go up, because of the debt burden on future generations. This is a … The deficit at 14% is a clear and present danger to the British economy today.

ANDREW MARR:

You want to come, you want to come in and cut now. Somebody like Richard Lambert at the CBI says the recovery is still much too weak to take that kind of risk …

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) Okay let's …

ANDREW MARR:

… and you are going to get you know a lot of people who are going to lose their jobs as a result.

DAVID CAMERON:

Let's take this argument absolutely head on. Richard Lambert also said about the Budget that it did not set out a credible path for deficit reduction. So let's look at … because I think this is key. What the government is saying …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But he said it's too early to cut.

DAVID CAMERON:

What the government are saying is that the economy is now starting to grow and they are predicting, I think rightly, some growth for 2010. And yet the government is saying they're not going to do anything about the deficit until 2011 and afterwards. Now why? And the answer to that …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) We talked to the government last week.

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) Yeah, but the answer to that is … Yes, absolutely.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) I'm trying to get your figures …

DAVID CAMERON:

Right.

ANDREW MARR:

… because you know let's go to somebody else. Let's go to Professor Blanchflower, who was on the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England recently, and he talks about a million jobs going as a result of your cuts and the danger with that and the cuts in capital programmes that you also intend to make of unemployment rising to about 5 million.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well I think those are absurd figures.

ANDREW MARR:

Why?

DAVID CAMERON:

Because the danger to the British economy is ignoring the deficit. Now what we're saying in terms of getting on with it, of starting earlier than the government, is you've got to look at 2010 next year and start to say right, we've got to start making some progress on public spending. Now the government currently plans a £30 billion increase in public spending in 2010 … (Marr speaks over) No, no, we haven't said that. We said we think that is too high, we don't think that's responsible, and you've got to start setting out some measures now that would start to make a difference. Now the difference between what you heard last week from the irresponsible Prime Minister, who wouldn't talk about this issue, and what you're going to hear from us this week is we'll be quite specific. Not every last programme, of course not, but we will be saying here are some steps you can take to reduce the deficit, to get public spending under control, and we've got to start earlier than the government currently plan.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) You see … Sorry …

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) I think that is thoroughly irresponsible because …

ANDREW MARR:

Right. You use the language of responsibility and you set out very clearly why you're doing it. It seems to me that you're not taking responsibility for the human costs of what you're going to have to do.

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) Well as I say …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) There's been talk …

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) But human cost is not … The human cost will come if we don't take action. You know go back in history ...

ANDREW MARR:

(over) I'm sorry, you're not denying that you're going to have to cut in a very major way government programmes. Now those programmes involve real people in real jobs. They think they're doing a real job. They don't think they're fat or waste or bureaucracy. They think what they're doing is pretty important. And many of them are living around here and many more in Merseyside and all around us, and a lot of those people are going to lose their jobs. And what I'm asking you is how many are going to lose their jobs. 700,000 to start with says the TUC; more than that says Professor Blanchflower possibly.

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) This is …

ANDREW MARR:

And have you factored the cost of the unemployment benefit into your plans?

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) If I might say it's an extraordinary way round of putting the question because this week … (Marr tries to interject) Hold on a second. This week we're going to be announcing some of the steps we think the government ought to take now to get the deficit under control. And I don't believe in hogging all the announcements. George Osborne will be making those announcements on Tuesday, and after you've seen those announcements you'll have a better idea of how we think the government should start to address the deficit now. And we want to do this in a way that avoids frontline cuts. We want to do this in a way that avoids job losses. So we have …

ANDREW MARR:

But you can't.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well of course …

ANDREW MARR:

You can't possibly avoid job losses if you're making these kind of cuts.

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) … No of course there are difficult … On the issue of quangos, for instance, we have said we've got to cut back the quango state. That will involve some people losing their jobs. I totally accept that.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But come on, it's more than just a few quango traps. Come on!

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) No, no, but I'm making … No, but the point I'm making: what did you hear last week in terms of specifics about deficit reduction? Nothing. From us you will hear specific points - I'm not going to go into them today because I believe that George Osborne is the right person to set them out - but you'll see specific things that would help us to get to grips with the deficit in the sorts of areas that I've been talking about before. Now when we've done that, I think that is the moment to say right, is that the right plan, does that go far enough, do we need to do more? Those are perfectly reasonable questions. But compared with …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) So we don't know whether you're going to give us a referendum we don't know how many people are going to lose their jobs as a result of the plans that you're announcing?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well what you do know is that the opposition, unlike the government - and it's an extraordinary situation, the government of the country not telling us what they're going to do on spending - we are going to be telling you what we think they ought to do now and what we would do in office.

ANDREW MARR:

Well they had their chance to be grilled last week. We're now onto you guys.

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) Yeah, but I think it is a, it's an important … Yes, absolutely.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) And it just seems to me that you know you are saying to the country … You're getting the benefit if you like of the rhetoric of talking about tough cuts and responsible decisions and seriousness and the deficit, but you won't take responsibility for the human consequences of what you are going to have to do.

DAVID CAMERON:

But we'll take all the consequences of the decisions that we'll set out this week. And I think that is … You know the contrast is here normally in politics oppositions just try and glide through and leave the difficult choices to the government. But actually …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But you're not talking about the difficult choices really.

DAVID CAMERON:

… what we've said, we're the first opposition in 30 or 40 years that's said we have to cut public spending, the first opposition that's actually identified things that need to be cut - things like the identity card scheme. And we will be the first opposition in a very long time that actually outlines some specific reductions not that would solve the problem, but that would start to get to grips with the problem and make progress.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) And higher unemployment is a price worth paying for that?

DAVID CAMERON:

Absolutely not. I don't accept the premise of your question at all.

ANDREW MARR:

You don't think unemployment's going to go upwards as a result of what you're doing? Okay.

DAVID CAMERON:

I think our plans are about getting people back to work. That is what tomorrow's announcement is going to be all about. And let me just say this.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) It just seems to me it's going to be swamped by the number of people who are going to be losing their jobs on the other side.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well I think you're … if you take that approach, then all you can do is put your head in the sand and say there's nothing we can do about this deficit …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) You just announce what's going to happen.

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) …and if you do that, unemployment will be higher. If we don't address this deficit, we will be facing very serious economic consequences in Britain. Go back in your history and ask yourself what was the only government that actually cut the National Health Service. It was the Labour government in the 1970s because they'd run out of money because they didn't address the deficit.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) We've talked … Okay …

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) By doing this - by taking the difficult steps, by taking the country with us through these difficult steps - we can avoid that from happening.

ANDREW MARR:

We've talked about spending. Let's talk about tax. Isn't it completely absurd in the situation in which you find yourself in to maintain your promise on inheritance tax - touching a tiny number of very rich people at the top? Wouldn't the straightforward thing now be to remove that from the table?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well what we've said is that this is a pledge that we'd like to deliver because it's something we promised - that only millionaires should pay inheritance tax, everyone else should be exempt from it. The only reason we were able to make that pledge, and the only reason we're able to keep that pledge, is we found a group of relatively well off people to pay for it and that is the non-dom residents, people who live in this country but don't pay tax on their worldwide income, who we are going to charge and tax to deliver this promise. Now we've said very specifically, as George Osborne has said, this is a …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) But of all the priorities, of all the priorities, all the people there worrying about how to get through the week and pay their bills, that remains one of your priorities?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well, as I say, only because we found a group of people that can pay for it, and also because we've said this is - and George has said this very clearly - it is a pledge for Parliament and I think it is right. People want to know …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Could it slip beyond the first Parliament?

DAVID CAMERON:

It's something we want to do, that's right.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) You're definitely going to do it.

DAVID CAMERON:

As I say, because we've identified the people that can pay for it, we are able to maintain the pledge. And I think …

ANDREW MARR:

What about the 50p rate of tax because you've said …

DAVID CAMERON:

Well that's something we've said we can't make an early pledge to get rid of. We don't like it, we don't think it's the right approach. I think it sends a signal that Britain is now anti-enterprise, anti-wealth creation. I think that's a bad thing, but we can't make an early pledge to get rid of it.

ANDREW MARR:

The Institute of Fiscal Studies suggests it won't bring in any money or not much.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well I've seen lots of different estimates. There's a debate going on about how much money it raises. I think while it's … I think it's clear it will raise some money at least in the short-term and that's why we can't make an early pledge to get rid of it.

ANDREW MARR:

Aren't you going to have to raise taxes generally even beyond where they are to fill this gap…

DAVID CAMERON:

Well you know this goes back four years, from when I became leader of the party. Right from the start, I always said you cannot rule out tax rises, you cannot make un-costed pledges about tax. And I won't do that.

ANDREW MARR:

VAT?

DAVID CAMERON:

And we're right not to rule out tax pledges.

ANDREW MARR:

VAT perhaps?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well what I want to do is try to make sure that reductions in spending bear the brunt of dealing with the deficit. I think we are already an overtaxed country. I think of people going to work on relatively modest incomes, struggling to get by, struggling to pay the bills. They want to see us get our house in order, to get spending down. They do not want to have to pay more taxes. That's why we're putting the emphasis on spending.

ANDREW MARR:

A lot of people don't understand quite who you are and quite what you stand for, even now, and when they hear you talking about tax and hear you talking about jobs and so on, they make the criticism that basically you are a very, very rich man, you're a wealthy man and you're a toff and you don't really understand the people out there.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well I've had four years of doing this job as leader of the opposition where I've tried to explain what I believe in, what I want the Conservative party to do. I think people can see now a pretty clear line from me and from the Conservatives about what matters to us, about the importance of the National Health Service, about the importance of families, about the importance of the environment, about how we can make this not just a strong country economically …

ANDREW MARR:

The importance of people at the top?

DAVID CAMERON:

… but also a stronger country socially. And you know I mean I think you're right, people ask all sorts of questions about your life, your background, your family, and I'm very happy about that.

ANDREW MARR:

(over) There's a picture I think that you always wince at when we bring up ……. Lincoln Club.

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) Oh I do, yes, of course.

ANDREW MARR:

Do you really … I mean is that the real David Cameron?

DAVID CAMERON:

No. We do things when we're young that we deeply regret.

ANDREW MARR:

And you're embarrassed about that?

DAVID CAMERON:

Of course, des… yeah, very embarrassed about it. But I think people have, I think people have had over the last four years a chance to get to know what I want to do with the Conservative party, what I want to do with the country, and get to know me as well.

ANDREW MARR:

Okay.

DAVID CAMERON:

But there'll always be questions and I'll always try and answer them.

ANDREW MARR:

Okay, as they're getting … Here's a question that will always be asked and I think it's a fair question. What's the personal wealth of yourself and your wife? What are you worth?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well I own, we own a house in London, which is a nice house near Ladbroke Grove.

ANDREW MARR:

But in terms of the assets and the money that you're going to inherit and the family?

DAVID CAMERON:

(over) I'm trying to … If you want to … I'm trying to explain. We own a house in the constituency, which is quite highly mortgaged, we both earn good salaries. So we are, we're definitely a well off family.

ANDREW MARR:

30 million or so, the Sunday Times suggested.

DAVID CAMERON:

That figure is absolutely ridiculous.

ANDREW MARR:

Is it?

DAVID CAMERON:

Absolutely ridiculous.

ANDREW MARR:

So what is the real figure, would you say? If 30 million's wrong, what is the real figure?

DAVID CAMERON:

I think what matters, what actually matters is do you understand the problems people face in this country? Do you understand the challenges we face as a country? Do you have the right ideas to deal with them? That is what people are asking about.

ANDREW MARR:

So you won't tell me what you're worth?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well you're very happily, you want to come and you can look through all my bank statements. I'm very happy …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Well I'm asking you. Yeah, but you must know. You must know in broad terms. People know what they are worth. I'm just asking you.

DAVID CAMERON:

Well house prices change all the time. As I say, our main asset is the house that we own in London and you can come and have a … We've done an interview in it, but you can come and have a look.

ANDREW MARR:

Alright, okay.

DAVID CAMERON:

I don't actually think that's …

ANDREW MARR:

The Prime Minister made one point about you, which seems to be fair, which is that you complain bitterly about the way the financial crisis was run, but all the way through the crucial years you were calling for less regulation. You were calling for government to stand aside. In terms of bad calls, that was about as bad as it gets, wasn't it?

DAVID CAMERON:

Well I don't accept that because I think the big mistake …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) Well I mean I can … As you can probably guess, I've got all the quotes here and they're pretty strong.

DAVID CAMERON:

The point about regulation …

ANDREW MARR:

(over) I'll read you what you said then back in 2006. You said that 'too often regulation is the first resort. The message from the city is that we should have less regulation and that the centre right believes that people should stand aside and let business get on with it'. You know your deregulation task force said 'government even think … government claims that all this regulation's necessary. They seem to believe that without it banks could steal our money'.

DAVID CAMERON:

I think …

ANDREW MARR:

Well they did.

DAVID CAMERON:

I think the point of what happened is actually there was a huge amount of regulation taking place, but there was a complete lack of authority. Why was there a lack of authority? Because Gordon Brown had taken away from the Bank of England the responsibility for being that authority. There was no-one in Britain to call time on debt, to call time on lending. And that is the big thing that we would change. Gordon Brown is saying keep the tripartite system, keep the regulatory system as it is. We are saying no, change it, put the Bank of England back in charge. And it's a really important point this because it's not about the quantity of regulation. It's about having an authoritative figure, a respected institution at the heart of it.

ANDREW MARR:

Okay, but you did get it wrong, I think.

DAVID CAMERON:

I think on the Bank of England, we got it right.

ANDREW MARR:

Well okay. Gordon Brown has said apparently that he is prepared to go head to head in television debates, but they'd like those debates to start now. In effect the great conversation, the great national argument is happening now and he'd like to get on with it. Will you pick up that challenge?

DAVID CAMERON:

Yes, I'd be delighted. I mean I'm in favour … I asked Gordon Brown first I think back in, I think it was May 2007, over two years ago, challenged him to TV debates. I think they're a good idea. I think they will help enliven interest in our politics. So, yes, I'd be delighted to take part in television debates. Obviously we've got to get some of the rules straight and also we've got to have them during the election. And I do …

ANDREW MARR:

But now now, not now?

DAVID CAMERON:

Oh both, I'm happy.

ANDREW MARR:

Okay, fine. We've got that clear. David Cameron, thank you very much indeed for joining us on this sunny day.

INTERVIEW ENDS




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