Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'You Cannot Create Green Growth for the North East on the Sands of Debt' Clegg Defends Cuts Planned by Coalition

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'You Cannot Create Green Growth for the North East on the Sands of Debt' Clegg Defends Cuts Planned by Coalition

Article excerpt

Byline: William Green

DEFIANT Nick Clegg today defended the coalition's cuts by warning the region's economy cannot be built "on the sands of debt" left by Labour.

In an exclusive Journal interview, the Deputy Prime Minister accused Labour of being dishonest about the "monumental mess" and of being the "most conservative" party in Britain for failing to come up with any answers.

The Liberal Democrat leader warned the Government would be unable to invest in the region's new green industries unless the deficit was tackled. Mr Clegg also said he was "relaxed" about colleagues speaking out amid speculation activists will be in a rebellious mood at the Lib Dem autumn conference, which begins in Liverpool today. But he admitted his party risks being unpopular amid predictions that thousands of public sector jobs will go in the North East as spending cuts bite.

The Lib Dem Conservative coalition is set to unveil the scale of cuts in its comprehensive spending review on October 20.

Mr Clegg said: "You can't create that kind of new green growth for the North East on the sands of debt.

"We can't invest in the North East if we are having to invest billions of pounds of money just servicing Labour's debts.

"So we have to deal with it, you have to wipe the slate clean for the North East so we can create a new brighter future for the North East."

He said a green investment bank would be set up, along with a "green deal" renovating millions of homes - creating thousands of jobs around the country. There would be no upfront costs, said Mr Clegg with costs paid through energy bills.

He stressed cuts would be implemented as fairly as possible and over a four to five-year period - and be nothing like the 1980s.

"I recognise that we live in anxious times. We are having to sort out this monumental mess that Labour left behind, but it is unavoidable.

"If you don't sort out the terrible mess that Labour left behind we can't create the jobs of the future," he said.

He added: "I hope throughout that people will see what we are doing, is that we are doing things now and we getting on with it for the long-term benefits of the country. …

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