David Davis glances ruefully at the plasters wrapped around several of his fingers — a reminder of the cuts to his hands he suffered during the summer when he helped two of his grown-up children move house.
‘I was a White Van Man,’ he says, laughing at the thought. But it’s cuts of a very different type that are worrying him much more now.
As a former chairman of the Commons spending watchdog the Public Accounts Committee, Davis is a fiscal hawk and has strong views on how the Government sells its spending cuts programme to the public.
In a speech today, hosted by the Legatum Institute free-market think-tank, he will say that although it’s vital to slash the national debt that was bequeathed by the Labour government, there must be a parallel plan to create jobs and prosperity.
Unless the Coalition charts a clear way to economic growth, he will say it risks being pulled down by a ‘Leftish backlash’ and by a relentless barrage of negative headlines about ‘Tory cuts’.
In a warning shot to David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, he will say they must maintain a twin-track approach.
‘We cannot be defined by a purely cuts agenda. If the only message the public takes away from the events of the next few months is one of retrenchment and loss of services, politically at least, we will have failed.
‘We need to rediscover the case for growth — and make it loud and clear across the land.
‘The Thatcher Government of the Eighties was demonised for simply restraining the growth in spending. This one will face even more hysterical opposition.
‘We have to get the structural deficit down and eradicate it or the country will be crippled. But we have to allow the private sector to take off as well. There has to be a growth agenda.
In an interview with the Mail yesterday, Davis called on ministers to embrace a high-growth, low-tax strategy to tackle the deficit. To read the interview in full please click here.