British PM warns of 'painful' cuts to tackle debt
New Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday the state of Britain's finances was "even worse than we thought" as he warned of "painful" and unavoidable cuts to tackle the record deficit.
Cameron lambasted the Labour administrations of premiers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, saying their "total irresponsibility" had left a "terrible" legacy that meant everyone's lives would be affected by the cutbacks.
In a speech laying out the scale of Britain's "debt crisis", Cameron said if urgent action was not taken, the consequences would be much worse as interest payments stacked up.
Cameron's new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition is to present an emergency budget on June 22 as it bids to tackle the deficit.
"Today, our national debt stands at 770 billion pounds (1.12 trillion dollars, 930 billion euros)," Cameron told an audience in Milton Keynes, southern England.
"Within just five years it is set to nearly double, to 1.4 trillion pounds. That is some 22,000 pounds for every man, woman and child in the country."
The Conservative leader said if no action was taken, Britain would be paying a "staggering" 70 billion pounds a year interest on its debt by 2015.
Cameron's administration has already unveiled plans to cut 6.25 billion pounds this year, and further austerity measures are expected in finance minister George Osborne's budget.
© 2010 AFP