Election 2015

Election 2015: Labour disputes borrowing figure

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionLabour leader Ed Miliband is interviewed by BBC deputy political editor James Landale

Ed Miliband says he does not believe Labour would end up borrowing more money than the Conservatives plan to if he wins the election.

The Labour leader said he did not accept an Institute for Fiscal Studies assessment that debt would be £90bn higher in 2019-20 under his plans.

He also defended his decision to carve key Labour policies in a stone tablet.

Mr Miliband said his plans to abolish non-dom tax status would be non-negotiable in post-election talks.

BBC deputy political editor James Landale said this was the first time the Labour leader had acknowledged he might not win an outright victory in Thursday's general election.

Asked what were the issues he thought were most important ahead of polling day, Mr Miliband said: "We have our manifesto and I'm determined we implement our manifesto, but I'll give you one symbol - non-dom status. Any government I lead is going to get rid of non-dom status, people that live here, work here, permanently settled here and don't pay taxes here."

Policy guide: Economy

This issue includes the wider economy and deficit reduction but also employment and the role of business.

Labour has criticised the scale of spending cuts planned by the Conservatives and say they will balance the books "in a fairer way" than their rivals.

In his BBC interview, Mr Miliband said the Conservatives had failed to "deal with the deficit".

Asked whether Labour would "borrow a lot more" than the Conservatives, he replied: "No, I don't believe we would."

He said he did not agree with the IFS, which said last month the debt would be £90bn higher under Labour's plans than the Conservatives', adding that "the credibility of a deficit plan is does it add up, does it make sense and is it going to work".

'Carved in stone'

The Labour leader was also asked about comments by Lucy Powell, the vice-chairwoman of Labour's general election campaign, about his decision to have party policies carved into a stone tablet.

Asked on BBC Radio 5 live if carving them in stone made them more believable, Ms Powell said: "I don't think anyone is suggesting that the fact that he's carved them into stone means that he is absolutely not going to break them or anything like that."

Mr Miliband said promises would not be broken, adding: "Carved in stone, delivered by a Labour government. Couldn't be clearer."

Asked whether Ms Powell had been wrong, he replied: "Well, I'm clear about it, yes."

In her interview, Ms Powell went on to say Mr Miliband "stands by his promises", adding: "It was just another way of highlighting that, which is that he's a guy of principle, of decency, a guy who is tough and he is going to deliver on his promises he set out, unlike some of this opponents."

Mr Miliband was also asked about Labour's approach to business, saying he had never claimed to have run a business and adding: "You can understand what it means without being a business person yourself".

He said his party had a "pro business" not a "pro business as usual" agenda, adding that "the future of this country will depend on millions more successful businesses".

The Labour leader said he was not nervous about the prospect of become prime minister if he wins the election: "I'm ready to change this country for working people and I see it as my duty to change this country for working people," he added.

A Conservative spokesman said Mr Miliband's comments on borrowing were "highly misleading".

He added: "As the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies makes clear, Ed Miliband will borrow more and rack up more debt.

"That will mean higher taxes, higher mortgage rates and lost jobs."

More on this story