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Cameron says coalition will defy ‘doubters’
London, May 14 (Agencies):
Published on 14 May. 2010 11:46 PM IST
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The coalition partners have a “common agenda” to rebuild the economy and will not be distracted by critics who say the alliance has no chance of lasting, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday.
Cameron, who took power this week after 13 years of Labour rule, said he would be able to maintain his power-sharing deal with the smaller Liberal Democrats despite the pressing need for public spending cuts and tax rises.
Political rivals, analysts and even some within Cameron’s own centre-right party have raised concerns the two sides’ political views are too far apart for the coalition to succeed.
But Cameron, who travels on Friday to Scotland where his party has only a single MP, said his alliance with the centre-left Liberal Democrats would grow in strength during its scheduled five-year term.
“Of course there will be skeptics and doubters but I believe we can make this work,” he told the Sun. “There is a common agenda we want to pursue.”
Unlike many other European countries, Britain is not used to coalition governments -- this is its first since 1945 -- and the divisions between the main parties are deep and historic.
Former Conservative deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine predicted the inevitable spending cuts would cause “terrible strains” in the coalition.
“We are living in a false dawn,” he was reported as saying in the Independent. “The sun is shining. It is not going to last very long ... there is a rocky road ahead.”
The coalition’s biggest and most pressing task is to cut a record budget deficit that is running at more than 11 per cent of national output.
Britain has emerged from the worst recession since World War Two, but the new government is under pressure to reduce public spending and raise taxes to balance the books.
“We have to take difficult decisions,” Cameron said. “This is going to be a difficult year in terms of public spending.”
His chancellor, George Osborne, is expected to set out government tax and spending plans in an emergency budget in the next few weeks.
Cameron will meet Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party and head of the Scottish government, which has separate powers from Westminster in areas like justice, health and education.
Their talks are expected to focus on the economy and the possible transfer of more powers from London to Edinburgh. Salmond’s party has six members in the British parliament.
New Foreign Secretary William Hague, a former Conservative leader who lost to Tony Blair in the 2001 election, will meet his US counterpart Hillary Clinton in Washington.
“Our immediate priorities are making sure that we get to grips with Afghanistan and tackling nuclear proliferation (in) Iran,” Hague told the Times. “Iran’s behaviour in recent years has been unacceptable to the great majority of the international community.”

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