GORDON BROWN'S attempts to scotch mounting speculation of a black hole in the public finances were dealt an embarrassing blow yesterday.
The Government's own statisticians slashed their population growth estimates, a move that threatens to undermine a key assumption behind the Treasury's optimistic growth forecasts.
Independent analysts warned it could force the Government to impose an extra pounds 5bn of taxes by 2006 - about 2p on income tax - to avert a public finance crisis.
But Whitehall sources dismissed the warning, saying a smaller population would allow it to increase estimates of productivity growth. The Government Actuary's Department (GAD) …