Gordon Brown’s preparations for this week’s G20 summit in London got off to a bad start last night when a British blueprint for a £1.4 trillion worldwide spending boost was leaked.
In an embarrassing disclosure, a draft of the final communiqué to be signed off by world leaders at the end of the one-day gathering on Thursday appeared in the German magazine Der Spiegel.
There were suspicions that the leak was a deliberate act of sabotage by sources within the German government, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is adopting a more cautious approach to fiscal moves to boost the national economy than Mr Brown, who will chair the summit.
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A Downing Street spokesman said the leak was an “old document with out of date figures” and that the £1.4 trillion was an estimate by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of stimulus measures already introduced by G20 countries. No new money was included, the spokesman added.
The comments, though, only served to increase speculation that Mr Brown was being forced to scale down ambitious plans because of international opposition, led by Germany and France.
Ahead of the summit, which will be held at the ExCel centre in London’s Docklands, Mr Brown unveiled plans for a new crackdown on tax havens across the world.