Advisor to British PM quits over 'good' recession comment

19th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

One of Prime Minister David Cameron's business advisors quit Friday after causing outrage by saying that Britons -- facing a wave of spending cuts following a deep recession -- had "never had it so good".

David Young, a member of the House of Lords hired by Cameron earlier this month as his enterprise adviser, told the Daily Telegraph that a drop in mortgage interest rates amid the downturn had benefited many homeowners.

"For the vast majority of people in the country today, they have never had it so good ever since this recession -- this so-called recession -- started," the 78-year-old said in Friday's edition of the newspaper.

Cameron's office immediately condemned the remarks as "offensive" and "inaccurate" and Young, a former trade and industry minister under then prime minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, was forced to issue an apology.

The apology was apparently accepted by the prime minister, who told reporters: "He should get on with what he has been doing and he was obviously extremely embarrassed and he was very quick to retract completely what he said."

But later, a spokeswoman for Cameron said Young had offered his resignation and it had been accepted.

She added that Young, who was only appointed on November 1, had done some "very, very good work" in his brief time working in the government.

Cameron's coalition government, which took power in May, unveiled plans last month for heavy cuts in public spending to help pay off a record deficit.

Ministers have warned of tough times ahead, but Young said people would look back at the government's four-year, 80-billion-pound (128.3-billion-dollar, 94-billion-euro), spending cuts and "wonder what all the fuss was about."

Cameron's spokesman said that "at this difficult time politicians need to be careful with their choice of words -- these words are as offensive as they are inaccurate".

Young said he deeply regretted his remarks, which sparked stinging criticism from trade unions and the opposition Labour party -- even if some economists acknowledged that low interests had benefited some mortgage holders.

"They were both inaccurate and insensitive. Millions of families face a very difficult and anxious future as we come to grips with the deficit," Young said.

© 2010 AFP

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