Prime Minister plays down threat to AAA rating

LONDON (ShareCast) - Prime Minister David Cameron has said the judgement of the markets is more important than the UK keeping its prized 'triple A' rating.

There is a growing feeling that the UK will belatedly follow in the footsteps of the US and France in being stripped of the top rating.

The government has in the past put great stay by the UK's ability to keep the triple A rating.

Increasing numbers of economists believe the slower-than-expected recovery in the economy could dash that hope.

Both the Fitch and Moody's rating agencies warned last year that the top rating could be at risk, with Fitch recently saying it would undertake a review later in 2013

Recent figures showed particularly disappointing performances from the UK's construction and service sectors, raising concerns the UK could be heading for a 'triple dip' recession..

But the Prime Minister told the BBC on Sunday that "top of the list of worries" was making sure the country continued to have credibility for its deficit reduction programme.

"I think what matters most of all is are you able to pay your debts, maintain you debts at a low rate of interest," he said.

"The ratings you have are all hugely important I won''t deny that for a minute.

"But in a way the real test is what are the interest rates the rest of world are demanding in order to own your debt."

"You can only keep your interest rates low if you have a credible strategy for getting on top of your deficit and getting on top of your debt," Cameron said.

In the Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced that his austerity programme would run for at least eight years, until 2018, rather than the original five.