PM congratulates new Greek premier


Published: Tuesday 27th January 2015 by The News Editor

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David Cameron has given his congratulations to new Greek leader Alexis Tsipras amid fears over the possible economic impact on the UK of the far-left, anti-austerity party leader’s policies.

Mr Tsipras was sworn in after his radical Syriza party forged an alliance with a small right-wing nationalist party to make up the two seats it needed for an overall majority in yesterday’s general election.

He was swept to office on a promise to renegotiate Greece’s 240 billion-euro (£179 billion) international bailout deal, and reverse many of the reforms that creditors demanded in exchange for keeping the country financially afloat since 2010.

A triumphant Mr Tsipras told Greeks that his radical left party’s win meant an end to “austerity and destruction”.

But Chancellor George Osborne said the party’s promises to voters appeared “very difficult to deliver” and “incompatible with what the eurozone currently demands” and warned that the uncertainty generated would have an impact on Britain.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister told Mr Tsipras that he hoped the two countries would work closely together on tackling corruption, rooting out tax avoidance and fighting terrorism.

They will meet at a European Council summit next month.

“The Prime Minister called Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to congratulate him on being elected as the new Greek prime minister,” a spokeswoman said.

“Prime Minister Tsipras thanked the Prime Minister for the call and set out the immediate issues that his government would be focusing on, in particular in tackling Greece’s economic challenges.

“The Prime Minister welcomed Prime Minister Tsipras’ intention to tackle corruption and increase tax transparency across Greece and said that as a key advocate of these issues, the UK was keen to work closely with the Greek government.

“They also discussed foreign affairs, agreeing on the need to work together to tackle terrorism, in particular the threat of foreign fighters.

“They concluded that they looked forward to meeting at next month’s European Council in Brussels when they could continue discussions on these issues.”

Earlier, Mr Cameron said that the Greek result was a “warning sign” of possible economic turbulence to come, reinforcing his call for Britain to stick to the Government’s economic plan.

“What the Greek elections show is we need to have an economic plan that works. What they were revolting against is economic failure, they couldn’t see a secure future,” he said.

“It’s a great contrast to what is happening here, our economy is much bigger than it was in the crash rather than much smaller and a country where we have much more people in work.

“What the Greek election will also show is that there are some warning signs in the global economy, including in the eurozone, less rapid growth from the developing economies. These point to the importance of sticking to our economic plan which we are delivering.”

Mr Osborne told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “Ultimately, if you take at face value all the things that the new Greek government has promised, including new big increases in public expenditure, I think that is going to be very difficult to deliver and incompatible with what the eurozone currently demands of its members,” he said.

“But I hope that both sides now act responsibly.

“Everyone has in the past looked over the precipice of Greek exit from the euro and pulled back. It is certainly in the UK’s interest that we have stability, that we have proper dialogue here between members of the euro.

“But ultimately what the UK needs is a strong partner, and the institutions of the eurozone are not working well enough for the people of Europe, and that has an impact on us.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband urged the Government not to “play politics” over the Greek result.

Mr Miliband said: “It is the responsibility of the British government to work with the elected government for the good of Britain and Europe and not to play politics.”

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: “This is a desperate cry for help from the Greek people, millions of whom have been impoverished by the euro experiment.

“An extraordinary game of poker will now begin with Chancellor Merkel, with the European Central Bank powerless to do much than be an observer.”

Published: Tuesday 27th January 2015 by The News Editor

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