Before close election, UK's Cameron says got some things wrong, but got economy right

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 26, 2015 6:11 PM

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday conceded he'd made mistakes during his five years in power during a special pre-election interview, but implored voters to give him a second term to finish the job of rebuilding the economy.

Opinion polls indicate neither Cameron's Conservatives nor the opposition Labour Party will win an overall majority on May 7 as millions of voters turn to Nigel Farage's anti-EU UKIP party and the separatist Scottish National Party (SNP).

Subjected to his toughest cross-examination in years by veteran journalist Jeremy Paxman, Cameron appeared uncharacteristically unsettled and conceded he'd broken a pledge to cut immigration and hadn't cut the deficit fast enough.

At times hesitating, Cameron was questioned about free food for the poor, his wealthy friends, the government's foreign policy record, and Europe.

Deflecting sometimes tough criticism, Cameron sought to refocus the conversation on the economy, warning voters that Labour would tax voters more and borrow more.

"If you're saying we haven't gone fast enough to cut the deficit, I would agree. We need to complete the job," said Cameron, who was unable to give precise borrowing figures for the government.

"All my political opponents have been saying that we should borrow more we should spend more, we should tax more. That's the alternative that you face with Ed Miliband."

Miliband will be interviewed second.

When asked about his pledge to offer voters an in-out referendum on European Union membership by the end of 2017 if he is re-elected in May, Cameron said he would only argue for membership if it was in Britain's interest.

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"If I didn't think it was in Britain's interests to stay in the European Union I wouldn't argue for our membership," he said.

"The situation today is that what we need is a reform of the European Union and then a referendum where the British people not me, but the British people watching at home, they have the choice in an in-out referendum by the end of 2017."

(Reporting by William James and Kylie MacLellan; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Andrew Osborn)