19 Sep 2011

Gear change in Whitehall over economy’ – Clegg

Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg tells Channel 4 News there is a “gear change” in Whitehall as the government tries to stimulate economic growth.

Mr Clegg admitted the economic circumstances for Britain have worsened, mainly as a result of the eurozone crisis, but said that it was not time to “rip up the rule book” on the government’s strategy for boosting growth.

“That is the platform on which we can do other things,” he told Channel 4 News, speaking at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Birmingham.

He said that infrastructure projects were high on the agenda – despite concerns that there is a black hole in the finances available from government coffers for this type of investment.

Mr Clegg said that private money was always involved as well, adding: “We have to be smart about using taxpayers’ money on things that will create jobs today but also help the country in the future.”

He said there is a “gear change going on in Whitehall” as the government “steps up the pace” on these kind of projects.

The Deputy Prime Minister also backed Vince Cable’s plans to crack down on executive pay and bonuses, saying he would like to have gone further on salaries in the state-owned banks.

Read more: LIVE BLOG Liberal Democrat party conference

He also said there is no anxiety in the Lib Dem ranks over the issue of privatisation in the NHS, and finished the interview re-iterating that he plans to stick around – despite rumours he has struck a deal with wife Miriam not to serve a second term.

“What Miriam and I say to each other is entirely private…but I can confirm I am in this for the long term,” he said.