Following a shrink of 0.3% in the UK economy from last quarter and reports of friction between the No. 10 and the Treasury, the PM has issued a statement saying he is 100% behind his Chancellor’s growth plan. But just how strong is the relationship between George Osborne and David Cameron? William Sharman investigates.
0.2% was the reported growth of the UK economy between April and June of this year down from 0.5% in the first quarter of the year. Take into consideration the 0.5% shrink from the last quarter of 2010 and the reports from the Telegraph saying that there where concerns that there was too much focus on cutting the deficit. Then it is understandable why the PM’s and the Chancellor;s relationship has started to appear in the media spotlight.
David Cameron however has said that he and George Osborne are “one team” and are both working together on the same plan to get the economy growing again. This is hardly surprising coming from the man who stuck with his decision to hire Andy Coulson until the bitter end. Of course I am not saying that the PM and the Chancellor’s relationship is in any way as endangered as the relationship between the PM’s and his ex head of communications. Mr Osborne and Mr Cameron have been friends and colleagues ever since their Oxford days and the PM has always fully supported his Chancellor in all his plans and ideas. But with the added pressure of the hacking scandal, Boris up to his old tricks and a slow-moving economy is there really a rift forming between the two men.
I would have to say no. With all the pressure at the moment and the spotlight only momentarily being taken off the PM due to the Norwegian atrocities, Mr Cameron needs to make sure he has a strong relationship with the Treasury rather than another source of stress. This would of course be easier for the PM if the economy was growing at a faster rate. Saying this though, as the Chancellor points out the plan is “creating jobs and providing stability,” and this has to be of some importance to the country.
The Chancellor also needs the PM as much as the PM needs him, as he comes under more pressure from the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls. Mr Balls has accused the Chancellor of being in “denial” and blamed the VAT rise and spending cuts for the slump in growth. Although, knowing Mr Osborne, he will be able to repel this attack in Parliament while also raising a few laughs from his colleagues and I am sure the Prime Minister will only be too willing to also join in the defence.
So with the PM under extra pressure to prove his worth and the Chancellor’s economic recovery plan not performing as well as he had hoped, I fully expect the pair to stick together and not let a rift form between the them. This, however, might change if further stressful and damaging events present themselves to the PM.
To read William Sharman’s other articles visit William Sharman’s Politics On Toast blog. This article is (C) Politics on Toast and William Sharman.