21 Nov 2011

Boris and Dave issue rival economic plans


There were two speeches by two top Tories with two very different agendas earlier, writes Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman.

David Cameron and Boris Johnson gave virtually simultaneous speeches just down the road from each other this morning.

Just before the PM got to his feet to wax lyrical about his housing plan to the CBI, the London Mayor was a couple of miles away talking up the merits of a new airport in the Thames estuary. Both men believe they have hit on the way to stimulate economic growth.

They just don’t happen to agree on the route map.

When I interviewed the London mayor this afternoon, I was struck by how underwhelmed he was by the government’s growth strategy to date. He agreed with quite a few commentators that the housing package was a step in the right direction, but was rather small beer unless accompanied by something else too. The PM and his chancellor were “tip-toeing” in the right direction he said.

I suggested they should be sprinting to get the economy growing again. He didn’t demur.

For a senior Tory to be so blunt about the prime minister might raise a few eyebrows. But Number 10 has come to expect Mr Johnson’s forthright views on the government’s performance. They put it down to ambition. Even if the mayor is re-elected next year, there’s nothing to stop him standing as an MP and trying to topple Cameron after the next election.

So on growth, as on the 50p tax rate (Boris wants to scrap it, Cameron is hesitating), not to mention the eurozone (Boris wants it broken up, Cameron wants it saved with a big bazooka).

In fact, some around the PM joke that these days the only thing that unites the two former Bullingdon Club comrades is a desire to be top dog.