Blair defends dismissal of firefighters’ pay demands

Tony
Blair said there is "no way that any government could yield to"
firefighters’ demands for a 40 per cent pay rise without having similar claims
made across the public sector.

He
said that such a move would be enormously damaging to public services, and
would put up interest rates and mortgages.

The
Prime Minister stressed that the Government have tried "everything we
can" to resolve the dispute.

"I
think and hope the public understands that we can’t give into demands that on
no basis could any government give into," he said.

The
Government will do "everything we possibly can to make sure that the
public is properly protected" in the event of a strike, he added.

"We
don’t want a confrontation. We have done everything we possibly can to avoid
it, but we are in a situation in which the firefighters have an existing pay
formula, we are prepared to honour that pay formula," he said.

By Quentin Reade

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