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David Cameron LIVE: 'We need to deal with debts and go for growth'

London, UK (23/11/2011)

LONDON (Management Today) Speaking at today's CBI Annual Conference, Prime Minister David Cameron laid out a strategy for growth.

David Cameron is back at the CBI Annual Conference. Today his focus is on export and competitiveness in the UK. He takes the stage fresh off a plane from Germany: 'I'm glad to be back from Berlin. Don't worry - I've left my bazooka behind,' he says.

Cameron knows that he needs to woo this audience. Packed with captains of industry from across the UK, these are the people the PM has to convince to stay in the UK and keep pumping taxes into the state. His address is standard political fare. First the bad news: 'We are well behind where we need to be,' Dave admits but quickly goes on to say that we are way ahead of many of our peers in the EU. 'Growth has stalled altogether in many EU countries,' he says. 'But in Britain, retail sales are up and our export performance has improved.' Well done, us.

Amid calls to increase borrowing to spur growth in the UK, Cameron is sticking to his guns: 'I am absolutely clear about the answer to the economy: deal with our debts and go for growth.' It is 'dangerously wrong' to borrow more money to spend our way out of recession, he says. 'We need a fundamental re-balancing of our economy.'

The hours closeted with Angela Merkel this morning show. While the PM stresses the importance of dealing with the eurozone crisis: 'Clearly the biggest immediate boost to British growth is a resolution to the eurozone crisis,' he chooses not to concentrate on the EU in his political game of 'pin the tail on the donkey'. 'I don't blame our ills only on the eurozone,' he says. 'Britain is outside the euro. No one else is responsible for our debt.'

And then we have the obligatory back-slapping: We acted to prevent crisis early; look at poor old Italy and the mess it's in; so many nations are now facing crippling austerity measures and political instablity - while we're sitting pretty. The PM insists that compared to some of our neighbours, the UK is in the sweet spot for growth.

Next, Cameron moves on to that age-old bugbear: lending. 'We need to keep up the pressure to get credit flowing to businesses again,' he says. But this is no bank-bashing adress. On the Project Merlin agreement, Cameron says: 'It's lent £157bn, 11% more than planned. Lending to SMEs is up 10% on the year' but Cameron admits it's still a 'nightmare' to borrow money and that 'credit for SMEs is still tight'. Many contradictions in a single statement; this is the nature of politics.

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