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Politicians holiday as economy enters meltdown

By Emily Ashton and Joe Churcher

Stock markets around the globe may be in crisis but the three most senior politicians in the UK are away on holiday.

Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday insisted the Government was still “fully functioning” as he chaired an urgent meeting in central London on the economic crisis.

Mr Hague is the most senior Cabinet minister remaining in the UK, while the Prime Minister David Cameron holidays in Tuscany, Chancellor George Osborne is in the United States, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is in France.

He stressed that Britain was “not in the firing line” of global financial problems. The Government was monitoring the situation “extremely closely” and was in touch with counterparts in Europe and the US. But Shadow chancellor Ed Balls accused the Government of failing to provide leadership in the global economic crisis.

Writing on the Guardian's Comment is Free website, Mr Balls raised the spectre of a 1930s-style depression, warning that governments in Britain and elsewhere were repeating the mistakes of that era by ignoring growth and relying solely on deficit reduction as the route out of recession. Mr Hague's claim

that Britain was “out of the firing line” in the crisis was “not only complacent but patently absurd”, warned the shadow chancellor.

Unlike in previous crises, there was “a gaping hole where British leadership should be” with the UK Government “absent from the global economic debate at this critical time”, said Mr Balls.

Responding to Mr Balls's comments, Conservative backbench MP Amber Rudd said: “Ed Balls is sinking deeper into denial and delusion. What the events of the last few weeks make clear is that the British Government has been ahead of the curve throughout this sovereign debt crisis.”

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