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John_major_on_sofa_2 Update: The report on the BBC website includes extensive quotes and has a video of the interview.

Sir John Major joined the attack on the Government’s handling of the economy this morning, in an interview with Andrew Marr.

He said that we were facing the worst economic situation since the Second Word War and that the Government’s actions were now going to make the recession "longer and deeper". He also expressed the view that the unemployment figures were far worse than they appear due to the number of people on long term benefits who could be working and that he expected "an avalanche of job losses" during the first half of next year.

He did add, however, that talking in the same terms as the depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s was over the top, but that depression oratory was being used in order to help ministers justify the high levels of expenditure and borrowing.

"They are over cooking it because they are concerned and they want to
justify the amount of debt they are getting into," he said.

Sir John said that the Government was right to recapitalise the banks but declared the VAT cut pointless – "you might as well have burned the money and thrown it away" – and said that he believed savers were currently "appallingly treated" because the amount they are earning in interest has dropped dramatically.

He proposed that the first £5,000 of savings income each year should be exempt from tax and also urged David Cameron to extend his proposed bank loan
guarantee to homes as well as businesses.

And he reflected on the difficulty he had in handling the recession in the early 1990s because of a lack of public money to spend:

"We
looked particularly heartless just sitting there. We looked very
heartless and we paid a heavy political price for it. But we did kill
inflation for a very long time."

Jonathan Isaby

28 comments for: Sir John Major attacks the Government’s handling of the economy

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