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Cameron focuses campaign on economy

Published 26/04/2015

David Cameron will set out a timetable for the first 100 days of a Conservative majority government.
David Cameron will set out a timetable for the first 100 days of a Conservative majority government.

David Cameron has insisted Tory campaigning will focus on the economy "to the exclusion of everything else", as he dismissed continued claims of adopting a negative vision.

The Prime Minister added his party's first Queen's speech would "all be about the economy" should they secure power, adding he believed there is nothing more positive than promising to create jobs, build homes and allow people to keep more of their wages.

His remarks came ahead of a planned launch of a timetable for the first 100 days of a Conservative majority government.

The PM said this would put working people "front and centre of our economic plan" with measures including lifting minimum wage earners permanently out of income tax.

On the first day of what Conservatives said would be a week devoted to the Tory economic message, Mr Cameron is expected to outline that legislation to ensure that no-one working 30 hours a week on the minimum wage has to pay income tax by 2020 will form the "centrepiece" of his first Queen's Speech following the May 7 General Election.

The Speech, scheduled for May 27, would also include bills to strengthen protections for small businesses, create three million more apprenticeships, cut the benefit cap to £23,000, introduce work requirements for young benefit claimants and establish new powers to force "coasting" schools to accept new leadership.

A housing bill would give 1.3 million housing association tenants the chance to buy their homes at a discount and a childcare bill would double free childcare for three and four-year-olds to 30 hours a week.

Speaking on Murnaghan on Sky News, Mr Cameron said: "In the end, the economy isn't lines on a graph, it's people's jobs, people's pay, our strong economy means a strong NHS, a strong economy means good schools, a strong economy means we can build the houses that young people want to buy and own for themselves.

"It's at the heart of everything. It's the heart of the election campaign and we're going to focus on that to the exclusion of everything else for the next 11 days."

Questioned over whether the lack of detail on policies - such as the plan to raise the income tax threshold to £12,500 - was part of a lacklustre and negative campaign, Mr Cameron replied: "I don't accept that at all.

"This is a very positive policy. What we're saying is we're going to raise the personal tax threshold, we're going to raise the 40p tax threshold so you don't start paying until you're earning £50,000, we've got 30 hours of free childcare for the parents of three and four year olds.

"These are all about the same things, which is building a strong economy, a very positive vision where people work hard and do the right thing get rewarded.

"And to me, people talk about this campaign, there's nothing more positive than saying to people let's get another two million jobs , let's fund another three million apprenticeships, let's let you keep more of your money to spend as you choose, let's build those homes that you want to live in, let's make sure there's good schools for your children.

"That's the most positive vision there could possibly be - security at every stage of your life and that's what our manifesto is about."

The PM also defended his warnings of the SNP, claiming the potential of Labour forming a government with SNP assistance is a "very disturbing development".

He said: "The SNP don't come down to Westminster to make our government stronger or make our country stronger, they come down to Westminster to break it up.

"And I think it is the right and responsible thing to point out the dangers of that."

Asked if people should vote Liberal Democrat to prevent former SNP leader Alex Salmond making a return to Parliament, Mr Cameron said they should "always vote Conservative".

In separate comments from the Murnaghan interview, Mr Cameron said: "On May 8, the first day of a Conservative government, I will instruct Whitehall to begin drawing up measures so we finish the job of securing a brighter future for Britain.

"The alternative is that May 8 marks the start of Nicola Sturgeon's SNP demanding more debt, more taxes and more borrowing from a weak Ed Miliband government. This will put the economy at risk - and working people will pay a heavy price through higher mortgage rates, lost jobs, and lower incomes."

Boris Johnson echoed the prime minister, claiming Mr Miliband would be the "lapdog" of the SNP.

The Tory mayor of London told the Sun: "He would be the lapdog of Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond and they would be diverting big sums of investment away from the South East, away from London, away from England.

"By-passes wouldn't get built, the A358 from Ilminster to Taunton wouldn't get done. What would happen to Cross Rail Two? What about the hundreds of thousands of homes we need to build?"

Mr Johnson added of the Labour leader: "I don't think he has the slightest interest in or understanding of the wealth-creating side of our economy."

Meanwhile, the Tories would also begin work on a European Referendum Bill to pave the way for a public vote on the UK's membership of the EU by the end of 2017, as well as on a British Bill of Rights, a Communications Data Bill and legislation to deliver the Greater Manchester Devolution Agreement.

Work on devolving powers to Scotland under the Smith Commission proposals and to Wales under the St David's Day Agreement would proceed alongside measures to implement English votes for English laws at Westminster.

Mr Cameron said: "There's a clear choice at this election. People can vote to stick to the long-term economic plan that will deliver security at every stage of their lives. Or they can allow Ed Miliband, propped up by the Scottish National Party, to take us back to square one.

"The first 100 days of a majority Conservative government will continue to put working people front and centre of our economic plan - offering security at every stage of life."

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