Hague: Work Harder Instead Of Complaining
Foreign Secretary William Hague has bluntly declared that there is only one solution to Britain's economic problems - hard work.
Mr Hague, in a deliberately tough message to business chiefs, said bosses should stop complaining and start working to help bring the country back to prosperity.
The senior Tory's comments are a direct riposte to business leaders who criticised the lack of measures for economic growth in the Queen's Speech.
"There's only one growth strategy: work hard," Mr Hague told The Sunday Telegraph. "I think they should be getting on with the task of creating more of those jobs and more of those exports, rather than complaining about it."
The Foreign Secretary added that Britain had seen the work ethic decline in recent years because people believed they could "live on expanded debt forever, rather than having to earn what we spend".
Asked if his comments could be compared to Lord Tebbit's "on your bike" message to the unemployed in the 1980s, Mr Hague said: "It's more than that.
"It's 'Get on the plane, go and sell things overseas. Go and study overseas'. It's much more than getting on the bike, the bike didn't go that far."
The tough new approach is believed to be part of a new coalition strategy to appeal to the hard-working and struggling families.
It is thought that Downing Street felt Mr Hague, as a former comprehensive schoolboy from Yorkshire whose parents manufactured soft drinks was seen as a better person to deliver the message than David Cameron or George Osborne.
The shift in tone comes after business chiefs including Sainsburys' boss Justin King accused the Government of failing to include any radical economic plans in the Queen's Speech.
As the Tories and Lib Dems battle to recover from major losses in the local elections, a new opinion poll has dealt a fresh blow to Mr Cameron.
The YouGov survey put Ed Miliband's approval ratings above Mr Cameron's for the first time in almost a year.
Almost a third, or 32%, felt the Labour leader was doing well and 55% said he was doing badly - giving him a net rating of -23% which compares to -29% for Mr Cameron.
Worryingly for the Prime Minister, the survey also found that only 39% of Tory voters believe the 2015 election will end in a Conservative majority.
And more than two thirds - 64% - said they believe the coalition has been bad for Britain.
But Mr Hague insisted Mr Cameron was a great leader and said he hoped he was at the head of the Tory party for "as long as possible".
"He is the sanest person to lead the Conservative Party in a long time, me included," the Foreign Secretary told the Telegraph.
"He's very focused, he doesn't change at all. His manner, his good humour, his way of dealing with his colleagues doesn't vary according to whether political fortunes are up or down. And I think that sort of steadiness is a great asset in a leader."