British ex-minister tells successor 'there's no money left'

17th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The scale of the economic challenge facing Britain's new government was laid out in a one-sentence letter left by an outgoing minister which said: "There's no money left", it emerged Monday.

David Laws, newly appointed chief secretary to the Treasury in Prime Minister David Cameron's new coalition government, described to reporters how he had been left the note by his predecessor Liam Byrne.

"When I arrived at my desk on the very first day as chief secretary, I found a letter from the previous chief secretary to give me some advice, I assumed, on how I conduct myself over the months ahead," Laws recalled.

"Unfortunately, when I opened it, it was a one-sentence letter which simply said 'Dear Chief Secretary, I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left', which was honest but slightly less helpful advice than I had been expecting."

Byrne insisted the message was meant as a private joke.

"My letter was a joke, from one chief secretary to another. I do hope David Laws' sense of humour wasn't another casualty of the coalition deal," he said.

Britain's new Conservative-Liberal Democrat government, which took power last week after elections on May 6, has promised to tackle the country's record deficit as a priority and will unveil an emergency budget on June 22.

It replaced Gordon Brown's Labour government.

© 2010 AFP

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