Laws: Lib Dems still thought best time for cuts was 2011

Joey Jones reveals that former-treasury secretary David Laws said the rhetoric on deficit reduction had been "hyped up" and that concessions gained from the Conservatives in other areas forced a Lib Dem u-turn.

This morning, the deputy political editor of Sky News, Joey Jones, revealed that former Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Laws told him the Lib Dems, at the time of the coalition negotiations, actually still thought the best time to be imposing spending cuts was in 2011 – “when the economy would be picking up” – a view in line with Labour and against that of the Conservatives.

Jones also reveals that Laws told him the rhetoric on deficit reduction had been “hyped up”, that it wasn’t as important as all that, and that concessions gained from the Conservatives in other areas forced a Lib Dem u-turn on the speed of deficit reduction.

Laws described the £6 billion in cuts as “reckless” before agreeing to them once in Government. Jones adds that Laws argues the Lib Dems had to agree to the speed of deficit reduction in return for £10,000 tax allowance, no further cuts to inheritance tax and funding for the pupil premium.

Laws told Jones:

“Obviously our natural position was that the speeded up deficit reduction should start in April 2011 when the economy was likely to be better grounded in terms of recovery.”

The same timetable espoused by Labour. Watch it:

This morning’s revelations sow further confusion over precisely when Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg changed his mind over the scale of deficit reduction. The deputy prime minister maintains that it was the situation in Greece, coupled with a warning from Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, who is said to have told him:

“If you don’t do this, then because of the deterioration of market conditions it will be even more painful to do it later.”

Elsewhere, The Independent reports another defection from the Liberal Democrats to Labour. Andrew Lewin, the youngest Lib Dem PPC in the general election, quit after saying the party was being forced to swallow:

“… a virtually unreformed Conservative agenda.”

Lewin is the first parliamentary candidate to have defected, and follows a long line of councillors who have defected to Labour from both the Lib Dem and Conservative parties since the formation of the coalition.

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