October 31, 2018 / 7:52 AM / 19 days ago

Conservatives should not try to outspend Labour - Osborne

File Picture: Former Chancellor George Osborne arrives at the Evening Standard offices to formally take up the role of editor of the newspaper in London, Britain, May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) - Former British finance minister George Osborne warned the ruling Conservative Party they must not try to compete with the opposition Labour Party by committing to large increases in government spending ahead of the next election.

The government announced an end to Britain’s long spending squeeze with tax cuts for households and the easing of some welfare curbs for poorer working families this week.

The Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran socialist has won over many voters with his promises to re-nationalise services and increase public spending, is neck-and-neck with the Conservative Party in opinion polls, meaning they could form the next government.

“The Conservatism I think that works is socially progressive and fiscally conservative - and we lost in the election I wasn’t involved in 2017 because we tried to out UKIP UKIP. We aren’t going to win the next election by trying to out-Corbyn Corbyn,” Osborne told the BBC.

“The Conservatives should stand their ground for what I think still millions of people are, they want a progressive, successful country, you’ve got to live within your means... trying to outspend our political opponents won’t help the Conservatives either.”

Osborne, who unveiled spending cuts when he was finance minister between 2010 to 2016, admitted a series of “regrets” about his time in office, saying mistakes led to the Britain voting for Brexit in a referendum.

He said at supporters of remaining in the European Union had explained the benefits of remaining in the bloc “too late”.

“We were wrong to play into the debate that everything that Brussels did was a challenge and a battle and was wrong,” he said.

Reporting By Andrew MacAskill; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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