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Cameron’s Office Defends Statement That U.K. ‘Paying Down’ Debts

David Cameron’s spokesman defended the prime minister’s statement that the government was “paying down Britain’s debts,” while confirming the burden will continue to rise until 2016.

Cameron made the statement in a political advertisement last night. “So though this government has had to make some difficult decisions, we are making progress,” he said. “We’re paying down Britain’s debts.”

Rachel Reeves, Treasury spokeswoman for the opposition Labour Party, wrote to Andrew Dilnot, chairman of the U.K. Statistics Authority, which regulates the production and use by politicians of government data, saying Cameron’s Conservative Party “may be attempting to deliberately mislead the public.”

Cameron’s spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, confirmed today that net government debt isn’t forecast to fall as a share of gross domestic product until the fiscal year beginning April 2016. “The point the prime minister was making is that it’s the prime minister’s government that’s taking the difficult decisions to deal with the economic crisis that the government inherited, and we’re making progress towards that, with the deficit down by a quarter,” he told reporters in London today.

Gray said that Cameron did know the difference between the U.K.’s budget deficit, which has fallen from 11 percent of GDP since the Conservative-led government took office in 2010, and the total stock of debt, which had climbed to 70.7 percent of GDP by the end of last year and is forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility to peak at 79.9 percent in 2015-16. “The prime minister was being very clear,” he said.

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