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Gordon Brown “cannot hide” from his responsibility for Britain’s economic woes, Tory leader David Cameron said as the gloves came off in the political debate over the credit crunch.

Mr Cameron said his party’s support for the Prime Minister’s bank bail-out did not mean he backed its wider economic policies which had been clearly exposed as “a complete and utter failure”.

Dismissing suggestions the present crisis spelled the end of the free market and centre-right economic solutions, he said the Tories would inject responsibility to the system. And he hit out at “unsustainable” immigration-fuelled growth and the demise of manufacturing jobs .

“Some people think that this decision – to support recapitalisation – means that we somehow now subscribe to the Government’s entire economic policy and doctrine.

“Let me make it crystal clear – we do not,” he said in a speech at Bloomberg in London before travelling to West Yorkshire to meet senior management and staff at state-rescued Bradford & Bingley. And the complete and utter failure of their economic record has never been more clear to see.”

The PM has enjoyed a bounce in popularity over his handling of the crisis and has just returned from an EU conference where he was lauded for producing a widely-copied rescue plan for the financial markets.

The Opposition has backed his multi-billion pound scheme as the best of bad options in the national interest but Mr Cameron is keen not to allow Mr Brown to continue to make political capital from it.

“As we look at the wreckage of our economy after ten years of irresponsible Government, it’s clear that if we’re going to make the most of those resources we need change – not more of the same,” he said.

“Gordon Brown is hoping that his whirlwind of summitry will mean that we will forget what has come before. Forget that – as we enter a downturn, where jobs, home and livelihoods will be lost – that he was the one who created this mess in the first place. But I won’t forget – and the British people won’t forget.”

Asked about Mr Cameron’s comments, Mr Brown said: “My undivided attention is on taking this country through the difficult times as a result of a global problem that started in America. I think the whole country wants everybody who can to work together through these difficult challenges. We are rebuilding the banking system. We are working to ensure that people with small businesses are helped and we are trying to make sure that we restart the housing market. I am determined that we as a nation come through these difficult times and to make sure that we can.”

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