UK Politics

Vince Cable: I would make good chancellor

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionVince Cable defended George Osborne's performance as chancellor

Business Secretary Vince Cable has said he would make a good chancellor but he was "not pushing for the job".

It comes after his close ally Lord Oakeshott called for him to replace George Osborne, who he described as a "work experience chancellor".

Mr Osborne is under fire after growth figures confirmed the UK is in its longest post-war recession.

The economy shrunk by 0.7% between April and June - the third quarter of a year in a row of falling GDP.

In response, Mr Osborne said the government was "dealing with our debts at home and the debt crisis abroad".

And he added: "But given what's happening in the world, we need a relentless focus on the economy and recent announcements on infrastructure and lending show that's exactly what we're doing."

But Lord Oakeshott told BBC News on Wednesday his fellow Lib Dem Mr Cable should be put in charge at the Treasury.

'Torrid time'

He said: "George Osborne has got no business experience.

"He has never worked outside politics. He is doing surprisingly well for a chancellor on work experience.

"But really in a torrid time like this I think we do need absolutely the best people available."

Lord Oakeshott, a City fund manager and former Labour councillor, said the UK needed "a bolder plan to to grow, to make the banks lend and to get houses built, and I do think it would help if we had the A-team in the Treasury".

In an interview with the BBC Two's Newsnight programme on Thursday, Mr Cable said Lord Oakeshott was a "good friend" but he did not agree with him on the issue.

Asked whether he would make a good chancellor, Mr Cable replied: "I probably would but George Osborne is doing the job, we're doing it together well as part of a team, and nobody's suggesting we change the arrangements".

Quizzed further about whether he wanted Mr Osborne's job on Friday, he told BBC News: "I am not pushing for the job.

"We are part of a team, we have a collectively agreed policy and I am delivering on my bit of it, focusing on industrial policy."

The Lib Dem minister said he was not "proposing a radically different approach" to Mr Osborne when it came to fixing the economy and hit back at claims his Tory colleague is a "part-time chancellor" as he spends part of his week on Conservative Party election strategy.

"We both work hard and we are both working full time on what we are supposed to be doing.

"We have a combined approach, a team approach, and we are going to stick with it."

He said the construction sector was the biggest "drag" on GDP - but denied the slump in the building trade was down to coalition public spending cuts, saying it was a hangover from the "housing bubble" under the previous government.

And he insisted there were encouraging signs for the economy with a big growth in private sector employment and foreign investment such as Jaguar Land Rover, which is creating another 1,100 jobs.

Before becoming an MP, Mr Cable was chief economist at oil giant Shell and worked as a special adviser to one-time Labour leader John Smith, when he was industry secretary in the 1970s Callaghan government.

It comes as the general secretary of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) urged Mr Osborne to "stay the course" with his austerity programme.

"I will say to the Chancellor that the cost of wavering, or looking like you're wavering, or looking like you're weakening, you resolve today, because of what's happening in the markets, because of Spain and Italy and Greece, and everything else, is very high indeed," Angel Gurria told BBC News.

But Labour urged the chancellor not to "take false comfort" from Mr Gurria's comments, as they were "the exact opposite of what his deputy has been saying for over a year and what the IMF said last week".

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites