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Clegg defends budget cuts

By the CNN Wires Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg appeared on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS"
  • Clegg defends upcoming budget cuts and his political choices
  • Clegg shot to prominence after his performance in a political debate

Washington (CNN) -- British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is defending his coalition government's plans for budget cuts, saying the five-year plan was the right judgment to make.

In an interview aired Sunday on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Clegg said he believes much of the debate has been "caricatured," and explained that the proposed budget cuts won't happen all at once.

"I think as people look at the details of our plans, they will actually see this is going to be quite carefully spaced over five years," he said.

"There are a lot of uncertainties abound, and in an uncertain world you've got to make a judgment about what you think is the best way to navigate through those uncertainties. It is our judgment that dealing with this over a five-year period of time, getting it sorted, relieving the next generation of the burden of paying off our debts -- money which frankly should be used for their schools and hospitals, rather than paying off our debts -- that that's the right judgment."

Clegg, the leader of the U.K.'s Liberal Democrat Party, shot to prominence during the run-up to parliamentary elections in May, after his performance in an American-style political debate. His choice to form a coalition government -- Britain's first since World War II -- with the Conservative Party put him in the deputy prime minister's chair, second in command to Prime Minister David Cameron.

He rejected the possibility of switching parties in order to improve his political future and perhaps take the top spot in the British government.

"It's completely inconceivable. Totally, utterly inconceivable. I'm a liberal to my fingertips, to my core, always have been, always will be. I'm immensely, immensely proud to be the leader, obviously proud to be the deputy prime minister, and bringing us into government for the first time in 65 years. I'm very proud."

Clegg also spoke about the decision to form a coalition government with the Conservative Tories.

"I think I've always tried in my politics to be on the kind of, set on the side of the people, than just on the side of partisan politics. ... [T]he voters didn't give any single party an absolute majority. No one won. No one won, so we had a choice: Did we just basically pitch the country into another election campaign, which would have been debilitating, or did we come together to govern in the national interest?"

Clegg's appearance on "Fareed Zakaria GPS" comes a day after Britain's Labour Party, which now forms the opposition after years in power, chose a new leader to take them forward into the next election. Ed Miliband was chosen by party delegates in Manchester on Saturday. He'll make a public address at the Annual Labour Conference later Sunday.