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Osborne vows to 'focus on priorities' after local elections

Category: Business

Published: 5th May 2012 23:02:54

The coalition will "focus on the priorities" after suffering heavy losses in Thursday's local elections, Chancellor George Osborne has said.

The Tories lost control of 12 councils while their Lib Dem partners also experienced heavy losses.

Mr Osborne told the Mail on Sunday they had to "focus on the priorities that really matter right now".

He said the government needed to "work even harder" on the economy, welfare, education, the NHS and law and order.

Earlier shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry said the government was "not doing the right thing" and had "no plan B" to get the economy growing and unemployment down.

But Mr Osborne told the Mail: "Ed Balls and Ed Miliband were Gordon Brown's right-hand men when they got Britain into this mess.

"Now they want to let spending and borrowing get out of control all over again.

"They are like a pair of heavy drinkers trying to wash away problems by opening another bottle."

Mr Osborne said his Budget had "allowed 24 million middle-earning taxpayers keep more of their money".

But, in a nod to the so-called "pasty tax" and the "granny tax", he added: "I know the way the Budget was presented meant this message wasn't heard. I take responsibility for that."

The chancellor concluded by saying: "Yes, this is a tough moment for our country. We've got to focus on what matters.

"Britain doesn't duck its problems - it confronts them and solves them. That's what, working together, we will do."

On a bad night for the coalition the main bright spot was Boris Johnson's victory in the London mayoral election, forcing Labour's Ken Livingstone to announce his retirement from politics.

Speaking on Saturday, Prime Minister David Cameron said Mr Johnson has run a "very strong campaign" and he was "delighted to congratulate him".

Asked why he had done so much better than the Conservatives elsewhere, Mr Johnson replied: "A mayoral contest is inevitably a contest between two propositions.

We're on our way, we're going in the right direction,”

"Basically, proposition A was go back to the 1970s or 1980s and proposition B was go forward with investment in creating jobs, growth, in the most dynamic city in Europe."

There has been speculation the London mayor could be a future Conservative Party leader, but he told the BBC he was dedicating himself to London and people could "take it for granted" he would not stand as an MP at the 2015 general election.

The Conservatives lost several councils across the country - including Plymouth, Southampton and Harlow - to Labour in Thursday's elections.

Labour also took two high-profile scalps at the London Assembly - deputy mayor and Conservative Group leader Richard Barnes, and chairman of the London Fire Authority Brian Coleman.

Ms Thornberry said the Labour Party was now "rebuilding trust".

"We're on our way, we're going in the right direction, but we've still got much more work to do," she said.

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BBC News, 2012. Osborne vows to 'focus on priorities' after local elections [Online] (Updated 5th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1426779/Osborne-vows-to-focus-on-priorities-after-local-elections [Accessed 23rd Apr 2014]

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