UK enterprise tsar quits over recession gaffe
Published 20/11/2010 | 05:00
David Cameron's enterprise tsar resigned yesterday after coming under fire for claiming most people have "never had it so good".
David Young, a Tory peer, decided he could not remain in his post after reflecting overnight on his comments and the furious reaction they had provoked.
He had told a UK national newspaper that low interest rates meant home-owners were actually better off thanks to the "so-called recession".
He dismissed the 100,000 job cuts expected each year in the public sector as being "within the margin of error" in the context of a 30 million-strong workforce and said that complaints about spending cuts came from "people who think they have a right for the state to support them".
The 78-year-old former trade and industry secretary in Margaret Thatcher's government also said people would look back on the recession and "wonder what all the fuss was about".
The British prime minister initially seemed determined to hang on to his adviser, despite Downing Street branding his remarks "offensive" and "inaccurate".
Speaking on a visit to flood-damaged areas in Cornwall today, Mr Cameron said: "Obviously he's extremely embarrassed. He's withdrawn what he said, he's apologised for what he said, and that's absolutely right. I mean, he's not a member of the government, he doesn't speak for the government and I think he'll be doing a bit less speaking in the future. He should get on with what he has been doing and he was obviously extremely embarrassed and he was very quick to retract completely what he said."
However, as the clamour for Mr Young to go showed little sign of dying away, his resignation was announced yesterday afternoon.
In a letter to Mr Cameron Mr Young wrote: "I have considered my position overnight and in view of the reaction to the reporting of the interview I gave earlier this week feel that it would be right to resign forthwith from my position as your adviser.
"I am a very strong supporter of you and the Coalition Government and for what you are about to achieve."
Unusually, Downing Street did not issue any letter from the prime minister expressing regret about his departure.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said the fact that Mr Cameron had appointed Mr Young in the first place reflected badly on him.