British PM vows to stick to austerity

Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday his government would stick to the path of austerity despite a turbulent few weeks which saw Britain's credit rating downgraded.

Cameron said in a speech in a factory in West Yorkshire that changing course on the economy would plunge Britain "back into the abyss".

The warning followed suggestions by Business Secretary Vince Cable that the government should consider borrowing more to stimulate economic growth.

Cameron said: "I know some people think it is somehow stubborn to stick to a plan.

"As far as I'm concerned nothing could be further from the truth. My motives, my beliefs, my passion for sticking to the plan are exactly about doing the right thing to help families and to help businesses up and down the country."

He added: "Because the truth is this: If we want good jobs for our children, we will not get them if we are burdened with debt and out-competed by India and China.

"If we want, and I do want, good public services, we won't be able to afford them if our economy is weak and we're spending half of the budget on debt interest."

Cameron, a Conservative, said Britain was reaping the rewards of the tough economic course the coalition set, pointing to the creation of one million extra private sector jobs and higher employment rates.

He also highlighted an increase in exports over the last three years to key emerging economies like Brazil, India and China as well as a 133 percent hike in goods to Russia.

Cameron admitted that the path ahead for Britain "was tough".

"But be in no doubt, the decisions we make now will set the course of our economic future for years to come," he said.

"And while some would falter and plunge us back into the abyss we will stick to the course."

Writing in the New Statesman, Cable -- from the Liberal Democrat junior coalition partners -- suggested the government might need to consider borrowing more.

He said the danger of slow growth may now be more damaging than the loss of confidence through increased borrowing and that the "balance of risk" had changed since the coalition made deficit reduction the key plank of its policies.