Speech

PM's interview with BBC News

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A transcript of an interview with the PM carried out by BBC News at the G8 Summit in Canada on 25 June 2010.

Question

Prime Minister, this is your first of these summits. Now, you’ve warned that they often fail to meet the hype before them. What are you hoping to achieve then?

Prime Minister

Well, the first thing is it is about getting to know fellow Prime Ministers. That is important and it’s worthwhile and it’s good to be here. What I want to achieve above all is to get the right outcome for the world economy and that means those countries, like our own, with big budget deficits, have got to move faster; other countries with surpluses can afford to do different things. We need to deal with those imbalances in the world economy. That is what this is really about.

On things that people want delivered, overseas aid, we made promises back in Gleneagles; we should stick to those promises. Britain is doing that and I think others should do the same.

Question

President Obama wrote to you, to the other world leaders and said you had to learn from the mistakes of the past and not withdraw economic stimulus’s too fast. Isn’t he rather nervous about what you and other European leaders are doing?

Prime Minister

I don’t think he is. In the British case, the Americans and others absolutely accept that those of us with the biggest deficits - and remember our deficit is bigger on some measures than, you know, Greece or Spain this year - those with the biggest deficits have to accelerate the process of dealing with them because the big risk to our economies is actually not ‘dealing with the deficits’, it’s ‘not dealing with the deficits,’ is the risks, as it were. So there’s no difference between us and the Americans on that. What the Americans and us want to do -

No, for those countries with very big deficits you need to accelerate the action because their risk is lack of confidence. For the rest of the world, do we need to deal with the imbalances between the big surplus countries, like China, and the big deficit countries, like us and the US? Yes, we do need to deal with those imbalances and that’s what President Obama is speaking about.

Question

Is there not a risk though that leaders come here, they all think they’ve got to tighten their belts and actually the growth comes from nowhere and we go into another recession?

Prime Minister

Well, one of the things we will be pushing very hard for is the greatest stimulus of all, which is free trade. What the world ought to be doing today is actually breaking down barriers to trade, not just completing the Doha round, but making sure we can trade goods and services more easily right across the world. That is a stimulus that doesn’t cost money and I’ll be pushing hard for better language on that, so we can make more progress.

Question

Now, at home, many people heard you say that this was a fair budget, it was a progressive budget, and even independent people like the Institute of Fiscal Studies say, well, actually not fair, not progressive. And now you’re talking about further welfare cuts; which means the poor will pay an even heavier price. Are you prepared to change measures to do more to help the poor?

Prime Minister

Well, first of all, let’s deal with the fairness issue. In this Budget very clearly the rich pay the most, both in cash terms and as a percentage of their income - that’s very important, that’s why I say it is fair. Everybody makes a contribution; the rich pay the most. In terms of the outcome by the end of this Parliament, we have further budgets to look at where we can try and build on that record of fairness.

And, on benefit reform, let me say this: what is fair? What is good? What is right about leaving tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens on benefit year after year, where, with help and with sanctions as well, those people could work, could earn more money, could do more for their families, could increase their living standards, could have a better life? That’s what I’m about and that is fair.

Question

Prime Ministers for many years have said they’ll deal with this problem of people sitting on benefits. Are you saying that in the weeks and months to come you intend to adopt a totally new approach, that you will get people who are on benefits because apparently they are incapable of work back to work, even if that means withdrawing some of their benefit?

Prime Minister

Well, this is a new approach and it’s based on a very simple principle, which is that, if you can work and you’re offered work and you don’t take that work, you cannot go on getting your benefits. But there’s something else in it as well, which is vital: there are also many, many people on benefits who want to work, but can’t work because they need help, they need training, they need to get back into the world of work, they need advice, they need confidence, they need emotional support. Those are subtle and difficult things the state doesn’t always get right, but we’ll be involving new organisations to help those people. That is what real welfare reform is about. It is tough for some people because some people do need a tough sanction, but it’s extremely tender and kind for those who really want to work, but have been trapped on a life, stuck on the sofa, lacking self-confidence, desperately wanting to contribute, but not being able to.

Question

You’re sitting next to Germany’s Chancellor Merkel today. Will you be doing the same when England play Germany in the World Cup?

Prime Minister

Well, we’re talking about perhaps even watching the game together, which will be an interesting experience. And, what I’m looking for, I’m sure we’ll have some friendly conversations before the inevitable comes up.

Question

The inevitable being the penalties, you mean?

Prime Minister

Well, the inevitable being the game and let’s hope it doesn’t go to penalties - I’m not sure the collective heart of England can cope with it.

Question

Can a real football fan sit with the opposition though and watch the game?

Prime Minister

Well, we’re about to find out.

Question

Will you shout at her?

Prime Minister

I don’t know. Do you expect me to, you know, put my shirt over my head and run around the table a few times? I think probably not. I think it would have to be a very civilised occasion.

Question

Only if the cameras are there.

Prime Minister

Yes.

Question

Prime Minister, thank you very much indeed.

Prime Minister

Thank you.