British Primer Minister Gordon Brown was left embarrassed Friday when host Chilean Michelle Bachelet inadvertently echoed the Conservatives' attack on his command of the economy.
Ms. Bachelet said her government had been able to introduce a significant fiscal stimulus because it had saved in the good times.
Although the comments came as she praised the Prime Minister's leadership, it sounded uncomfortably like Tory leader David Cameron claim that Mr Brown did not fix the roof while the sun was shining.
”I would say that because of our decision during the good times, (with the good copper prices) we decided to save same of the money for the bad times, Ms Bachelet said in English at a joint press conference in Santiago. She added that Chile had developed two sovereign wealth funds especially designed for moments like this.
However, Mr Brown felt he needed to respond by insisting that the International Monetary Fund believed Britain was better prepared than most countries for the downturn.
In Britian George Osborne, the shadow chancellor pounced, saying: The president of Chile is right to point out, as we have done, that countries that put aside money in the good years are the ones that can afford to spend that money now without adding recklessly to national debt. Gordon Brown is getting lessons from the Latin Americans about sound public finances. You couldn't make it up.
The episode was the latest difficulty to beset Mr Brown's tour ahead of next week's G20 summit in London.
A speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday was overshadowed by a suggestion from the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, that the UK may not be able to afford a further fiscal stimulus.
Then, as PM Brown arrived in New York, Mirek Topolanek, the Czech prime minister, criticized Barack Obama's fiscal stimulus package and bail-out describing them as the way to hell.
In Brazil Brown's call for a 100 billion US dollars package to revive international trade was overshadowed when his host President Lula da Silva launched an attack on the white, blue-eyed people” who had caused the economic crisis, “not the black, the poor or the indigenous”.