Alistair Darling warned me of deficit size in 2007 - Burnham

Posted On: 
13th July 2015

Alistair Darling told Andy Burnham he was concerned the UK was running too high a budget deficit prior to the financial crisis in 2008.

The Labour leadership hopeful, who was then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, revealed today the former Chancellor had expressed apprehension about the state of the UK’s public finances in 2007.

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The Shadow Health Secretary today sought to put distance between himself and fellow leadership contender Yvette Cooper by apologising for the size of the UK’s budget deficit at the time of the financial crisis.

“I don’t think we can win back people’s trust if we say, as Yvette is saying, ‘oh we did everything right in the economy all of those years’,” he said at a live hustings hosted by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire.

“The truth is we did fix the roof while the sun was shining, the rooves of those schools and the hospitals where water was pouring through in 1997, so we did a lot to reinvest in the fabric of our country.

“But, the deficit was too high when the crash came. I know that because I was Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2007, and Alistair Darling said to me ‘the deficit is too high we need to bring it back down’.”

Following his admission regarding Labour’s control of public finances prior to the financial crisis, audience members pressed Mr Burnham for an apology.

The Leigh MP said Labour repaired the “fabric of this country” when in power, before adding:

“Well yes, sorry it was a mistake, we shouldn’t have allowed the deficit to get that high. But what I would ask everyone else is don’t believe all the myths about our economic record. We did a lot of things to repair the fabric of this country.”