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Tories blame Brown for Equitable fiasco

The Conservatives are warning the Government that the Equitable Life debacle will become an election issue unless a solution is found soon.

It follows a blistering onslaught by the Tories, saying Chancellor Gordon Brown should take direct responsibility for the debacle.

Shadow Chancellor Michael Portillo attacked Brown in the House of Commons last week for his lack of action.

Tory Shadow Economic Secretary Howard Flight said unless a solution is found, the crisis will become an election issue.

Economic Secretary Melanie Johnson also came under fire from Tory Treasury spokesman Richard Ottaway for her lacklustre performance in explaining the Government&#39s position over Equitable.

Pressure is also mounting on the Government in the House of Lords as Opposition peers have called for a full inquiry, saying it is not enough for the FSA to examine its own performance.

Portillo said: “Will the Government take their responsibility seriously and will the Chancellor recognise that the fate of the millions of people has been affected by what has been done in his name?” Flight says: “If there is not a bail-out, it is going to become an election issue. By April, a lot of people are going to be running for the door.”

Tory Treasury spokesman MP Richard Ottaway says: “The Government is not taking this seriously. It has been left to a very junior minister who says nothing in her remarks. She has been quite appalling in her answers.”

A Treasury spokesman says: “The FSA has already announced that it will be conducting an inquiry and will be publishing its findings. The Government welcomes and supports this and thinks it would be unwise for anyone to comment before that time.”

Equitable furore, p52-53

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