Cameron: UK risks going into economic ‘free-fall’

David Cameron today warned the UK risks going into "free-fall" if it returns to the economic policies proposed by Labour.

The prime minister used his New Year's message to warn that the UK's economic recovery remained "fragile" and risked devastation if an alternative economic plan was adopted.

"If you doubt how disastrous a return to Labour-style economics would be, just look at countries currently following that approach," he wrote in The Times.

"They face increasing unemployment, industrial stagnation and enterprise in free-fall. The opposite of what’s happening here.

"Our recovery is real, but it’s also fragile, and there are more difficult decisions ahead. A return to that economic madness would devastate this country."

He said the government would now legislate for a new "Charter for Budget Responsibility," effectively making austerity permanent under UK law.

Cameron's comments follow a similar message from his coalition partner Nick Clegg, who yesterday claimed that a vote for anyone other than the Lib Dems would threaten the economy's survival.

Labour leader Ed Miliband focused instead on what he called a "once in a generation cost of living crisis" and said the government were desperate to talk about anything but the rising living costs facing people in the UK.

"We are going to show to people in 2014 how by standing up for the right people, by being willing to take on the powerful interests and make big changes in our economy, we can deal with the cost of living crisis both now and in the future so that we can earn and grow our way to a higher standard of living for people," he said.

The first minister of Scotland Alex Salmond used his New Year message to tell Scots they faced the "opportunity of a lifetime" in September when they vote on whether the country becomes independent.

“Let’s not wake up on the morning of 19 September next year and think to ourselves what might have been. Let’s wake up on that morning filled with hope and expectation – ready to build a just and prosperous nation,” he said.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage used his message to claim that his party will cause a "huge shake-up" at the European elections later this year.

"In May of this year, I shall do everything possible to turn the election for the European Parliament into a quasi-referendum on EU membership and expect an electorate frustrated with the present and hopeful of future change to come out in great numbers to vote for Ukip,” he said.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett also issued a New Year's message in which she claimed that the the recent rise of food bank use across the UK was the story of the year and a symbol of the government's "heartless, inept" social policies.

She also called on David Cameron to admit Syrian refugees into the UK.

"In the build up to bombing, you told us Mr Cameron that you cared about the plight of vulnerable Syrians. Now’s the time to demonstrate that that wasn’t just rhetoric, a ploy to take us into war," she said.