Page last updated at 10:48 GMT, Sunday, 4 October 2009 11:48 UK

Deficit 'danger' worries Cameron

David Cameron: "The deficit is a clear and present danger to the British economy"

Conservative Party leader David Cameron has said that the UK's budget deficit is the biggest threat to the UK economy.

"The deficit is a clear and present danger to the British economy," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

In April, Chancellor Alistair Darling forecast that public borrowing this year would reach a record £175bn over the next two years.

Mr Cameron said that tackling the deficit will be among his priorities.

'Irresponsibility'

The government spent £85.5bn last year on bailing out the banks and pumping cash into the economy in an effort to stave-off a full-blown depression.

The real danger is pretending [the deficit] is not there
David Cameron

That has taken its toll on the UK public finances.

Speaking ahead of the Tory party conference in Manchester this week, Mr Cameron said he was angry that Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not mention the deficit in last week's speech to the Labour Party.

"I think its the height of irresponsibility as a leader of a country," he said.

Mr Cameron also cited some economists predictions that the government will borrow 14% of gross national product next year - double the figure in 1976.

That was when the last Labour government was forced to go to the International Monetary Fund for a bail-out.

"The real danger is not dealing with the deficit, the real danger is pretending it's not there," he said.

Credit rating

The total government debt is also expected to double to 79% of GDP by 2013 - the highest level since the Second World War.

The ratings agency Standard & Poor has warned that the soaring UK public debt levels could lead to the UK's triple-A credit rating eventually being downgraded.

It changed the UK's outlook to negative in May.

A credit rating downgrade would make it more expensive for the UK to borrow on international markets and could jeopardise spending plans

Mr Cameron warned that interest rates and taxes would have to rise to deal with the debt until drastic cuts in public spending were enacted.



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