Prime Minister David Cameron’s austerity measures to narrow the U.K. budget deficit have the backing of three quarters of voters, including a majority of opposition supporters, an opinion poll found.
Seventy-four percent of respondents to a ComRes Ltd. poll for today’s Independent newspaper agreed that Cameron’s coalition government should not increase borrowing and should pay off the deficit as soon as possible, while 18 percent disagreed, ComRes said in an e-mailed statement. The approach was also endorsed by 58 percent of supporters of the opposition Labour Party, which says the government is cutting the deficit too far and too fast.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in his year-end economic statement last month that Britain faces two extra years of austerity, announcing 23 billion pounds ($36 billion) of new spending reductions after the Office for Budget Responsibility slashed its forecasts for economic growth. The fiscal watchdog predicted Osborne will need to borrow an extra 112 billion pounds by 2016 and said more than 700,000 public-sector workers will lose their jobs over the next six years.
The ComRes survey also showed a rise in support for Cameron’s Conservatives after the prime minister refused to join 26 other nations in backing a European Union-wide treaty to rescue the euro at last week’s EU summit in Brussels. It showed Labour and the Conservatives neck-and-neck at 38 percent, with the Liberal Democrats of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at 12 percent. That compared with a ComRes poll before the summit showing Labour at 40 percent, the Tories at 36 percent and the Liberal Democrats at 10 percent.
ComRes interviewed 1,002 voters by telephone from Dec. 9 to Dec. 11 for its poll. It gave no margin of error.