UK & World News
Labour Slams PM's 'Camerkozy' Performance
Labour has attacked David Cameron's handling of the eurozone crisis at the G8 summit, dismissing his "cosy photos" with Barack Obama and slamming "Camerkozy economics".
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the Prime Minister's austerity measures were a "catastrophe for Britain" and urged Mr Cameron to change course to a policy of jobs and investment.
Interviewed by Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News about the G8, Mr Balls said: "You had overnight this announcement and cosy photos of David Cameron and President Obama.
"The reality is that Obama and the new French President Hollande are saying you've got to have a growth and jobs plan because without growth you won't get the deficit down.
"David Cameron has been stuck with the German Chancellor Merkel saying for the last two years faster cuts will work, stick with the austerity, that's the only way for growth.
"It's been proved wrong across Europe and in Britain too, they look increasingly isolated in my view."
Mr Balls reinforced an attack on the Prime Minister by Ed Miliband in a Financial Times article in which the Labour leader condemned the "complacency of 'Camerkozy' economics" and claimed it had led Britain into a double-dip recession.
"President Sarkozy, the previous French President, a right of centre politician, tried to persuade Germany too," said Mr Balls.
"But in the end it ended up with Merkel, Sarkozy and Cameron - this 'Camerkozy economics' - all agreeing austerity would work.
"In the end, if you're not though at the table being influential, somebody has got to persuade Germany that this is a catastrophe for Britain, Europe and the world and that Germany has got to change course."
Questioned about an updated biography of Mr Cameron which describes the Prime Minister as "chillaxing" with karaoke, snooker, tennis and three or four glasses of wine on a Sunday followed by a nap, Mr Balls said: "What I'm worried about is what he's doing during the week.
"I often feel in the House of Commons he is not really on top of the issues, he's not on top of the detail, he doesn't know the answers to the questions and he doesn't seem to always understand the economics of the huge problems that we're dealing with and when we're in recession that's a bit worrying. So, look, I don't care what he does on Sundays but Monday to Friday he makes me worried and the same is true with our part-time Chancellor too."
Mr Balls also confirmed that he and other senior shadow cabinet figures, including new policy chief Jon Cruddas, are urging Mr Miliband to consider offering the British people an EU referendum at the next general election.
He said a referendum was not the biggest priority, but said: "I don't think you should ever say that the public shouldn't be consulted as part of the discussion and in some ways part of Europe's problems is that it has been seen to be run too much by elites and not enough in touch with the people."
Also speaking on Murnaghan, Justice Secretary and former chancellor Ken Clarke admitted Greece could leave the Eurozone if left-wingers won the second general election on June 17, but said it would be disastrous if it did.
"If they get a hopeless lot of cranky extremists elected at the next election then they will default on their debt and everybody says they will leave the euro," he said.
"Actually that's quite likely but it doesn't necessarily follow, but they'll default on their debt. The problem then is for the Greeks that will be disastrous, they will encounter real poverty."
Hitting back at Mr Balls' criticism of the Prime Minister, Mr Clarke said: "There's a silly argument going on about are we in favour of growth or are we in favour of austerity. You need both. If there is any politician in Europe who isn't in favour of growth he's an idiot.
"We've been in favour of growth ever since we got in. It has to be combined with fiscal discipline so you can't do as Ed Balls describes and say a policy for growth involves borrowing more money. That is absolutely ludicrous but sensible policies for growth like completing the single market, reforming the labour markets, rebalancing the European economy, having some structural reforms.
"We've got to join in with the Germans, with the French, with the other sensible politicians, with the very good Prime Minister of Italy, in arguing for a combination of the two as we have been actually for the last 12 months."
Mr Clarke, a long-time opponent of referenda, also rejected Labour's moves towards offering a referendum on EU membership.
"I can't think of anything more irrelevant to the present situation actually and nor personally can I think of anything more disastrous than the British leaving the European Union and deciding now is the moment to take up splendid isolation alongside Iceland and others," he said.
"The Labour Party is led by Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, this is Gordon Brown's old private office, this is his fan club. They were as irresponsible as the Greeks have been when they were in office. All the rules, the single currency and the European Union was meant to have about fiscal discipline were broken by Gordon Brown as much as they were broken by the Greeks."
And on Mr Cameron's lifestyle, Mr Clarke quipped: "David has a quite different metabolism to me, he appears to get up at the crack of dawn and I hear him referring to people on Farming Today on the radio. I have not listened to Farming Today for many years but you might find me with a brandy and a cigar at one o'clock in the morning working on my papers."