POLITICS

Christine Lagarde Insists She Is 'Not A Candidate' For European Commission President

06/06/2014 11:59 BST | Updated 06/06/2014 12:59 BST

Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, has insisted that she is 'not a candidate" to be next president of the European Commission, as concerns mount that ex-prime minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker could get the job.

Juncker's prospective appointment has reportedly provoked David Cameron to starkly warn that it could lead to the UK leaving the European Union due the resulting instability that it would cause.

Tory MP Brooks Newmark, member of the Treasury select committee, told the Huffington Post UK: "Two years of Juncker as EU chief will be the best asset the Eurosceptics could possibly have in the run up to the referendum in 2017."

Lagarde has been raised by some as a prospective possible alternative to Juncker, however the IMF chief today poured cold water on any expectations, insisting: "I am not a candidate as I have a job, which is rather important."

For good measure, she added: "I have a job and I intend to finish it."

Pressed on if she would accept the European Commission post if persuaded by others, Lagarde refused to be drawn, telling reporters: "You're not going to extract anything else out of me because I think that is a very clear position on my part."

Lagarde's remarks come as she was in London to mark the publication of the IMF's latest assessment of the state of the UK economy, praising it for the "pretty much all good" economic figures.

However, she zeroed in on the UK's "subdued" rate of exporting as a cause for concern, saying: "The export cylinder is one that could fire a little more strongly."

The IMF expressed alarm at the pace of house price growth in the UK, warning: "House price inflation is particularly high in London, and is becoming more widespread. So far, there are few of the typical signs of a credit-led bubble."

"Nonetheless, a steady increase in the size of new mortgages compared with borrower incomes suggests that households are gradually becoming more vulnerable to income and interest rate shocks."

Chancellor George Osborne said earlier today he accepted the IMF's concern, saying that the Bank of England "should not hesitate" to take action to rein in the housing market if it poses a risk to the recovery.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We need to be alert to the build-up of debt in the housing market, we need to be alert when we see house prices rising."

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Osborne pointed out that the Bank's Financial Policy Committee to monitor and react to signs of the housing market overheating.

"We have created - this Government, me as Chancellor - the mechanism to deal with that," he said. "We have given the Bank of England the tools to do the job and they should not hesitate to use those tools if they see these developments turning into a risk for the British economy."

He added: "I have a very strong view. We need to keep a close eye on these developments and as and when we think they are a risk to our economy we should act, and I have created the mechanism to do that."

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