Osborne in 2009: We must “sit up and listen”; 2012: ‘plays down threat’ to AAA rating

In 2009, George Osborne said we need to "sit up and listen" to the threat to the UK's AAA rating; today, he has tried to 'play down the threat' to our rating.

Much has been made of the importance of the UK’s AAA credit rating, not least by George Osborne when in opposition – so it’s a little hypocritical for him now, in government, to seek to play down its importance.

In 2009, after Fitch issued a AAA warning, the then shadow chancellor said:

We all need to sit up and listen to this latest warning from an international credit rating agency. Britain is singled out for concern over the size of our debt crisis, and the message could not be clearer: if we don’t start dealing with those debts, we will face a downgrade. When will Gordon Brown listen?”

Yet today, after the latest suggestion from Fitch that Britain could be downgraded, the Telegraph reports the chancellor has “played down the importance of Britain’s AAA credit rating”, having previously, as we know, “suggested that retaining Britain’s AAA rating – the highest possible – is a key measure of economic success”.

Osborne now says:

“It wouldn’t be a good thing, but the credit rating is one of a number of ways which people look at countries.”

Voters should also pay attention to the interest rate Britain has to pay on its government bonds, known as gilts, he adds – not quite the be all and end all he intimated previously.

Indeed, according to Andrew Lilico, an economist at Europe Economics:

“George Osborne said in 2010 that the way we should evaluate his performance as chancellor and the government’s economic strategy is whether or not they keep the AAA rating.”

Quite; if you live by the AAA rating…

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