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GORDON BROWN’S carefully laid plans for a G20 deal on worldwide tax cuts have been scuppered by an eve-of-summit ambush by European leaders. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, last night led the assault on the prime minister’s “global new deal” for a $2 trillion-plus fiscal stimulus to end the recession. “I will not let anyone tell me that we must spend more money,” she said. The Spanish finance minister, Pedro Solbes, also dismissed new cash being pledged at Thursday’s London summit.
The assault by European Union leaders also represents a defeat for President Barack Obama, who is desperate for other big economies to copy his $800 billion stimulus plan. “There will be a very long communiqué, but there won’t be much in it,” said a Washington economist. Adding to the disarray, a draft of the agreement Brown hopes to secure was leaked to a German news magazine, prompting suggestions of “dirty tricks” by Berlin.
There are growing fears that protests at the summit venue, the ExCeL centre in London’s Docklands could be marred by violence. Scotland Yard will be deploying specialist officers trained to use 50,000-volt Taser stun guns.
George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, yesterday warned Brown against further tax cuts in the budget. “When it comes to your plans for a second fiscal stimulus, I say this Gordon Brown: enough is enough,” he said in a speech. “We will not let you play roulette with the public finances yet again.”