Peter Hoskin

There may be tension ahead

There may be tension ahead
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There's another epsiode in the Alistair Darling story today, with a hint in the FT that he may be resisting pressure from Brown to introduce a big package of (debt-fuelled) spending increases and tax cuts in the Budget:  

"Mr Darling, speaking to foreign journalists in London, called for the world’s 20 leading industrial and developing nations to pursue a package of measures to boost the economy including monetary loosening and measures to rebuild banks.

However, on the fiscal side the chancellor put the stress on implementing tax cuts and spending increases that were already in the pipeline...

...Some ministers believe Mr Darling is coming under pressure from Mr Brown to give the economy another fiscal jolt, a claim denied by both the Treasury and Downing Street."

Despite the official denials, it sounds plausible enough - after all, there were similar stories cropping up just before the PBR.  And, whether true or no', it certainly doesn't help Brown's cause.  Continuing rumours of a split between No.10 and No.11 hardly create the impression that the Government is confident in its economic agenda, and will only fuel the speculation about, say, Ed Balls being made Chancellor or about Darling doing a Howe.  It also lets the Tories drum up a bit of mischief, as Ken Clarke has so ably demonstrated today.