John Bruton - Shadow Cabinet and In Government

Shadow Cabinet and In Government

Following Fine Gael's defeat in the 1977 general election, Bruton was appointed to the new front bench as Spokesperson on Agriculture by its new leader, Garret FitzGerald. He was later promoted to the shadow Finance portfolio, making a particular effective speech in the Dáil in response to the budget of 1980. He played a prominent role in Fine Gael's campaign in the 1981 general election which resulted in another coalition with the Labour Party and with FitzGerald as Taoiseach. Bruton received a huge personal vote in Meath, and at the age of only 34 was appointed Minister for Finance, the most senior position in the Cabinet. The new government had to abandon its election promises to cut taxes in the light of overwhelming economic realities. The government collapsed unexpectedly on the night of 27 January 1982 when Bruton's controversial Budget was defeated in the Dáil. The previously supportive Independent Socialist TD, Jim Kemmy, voted against the Budget, which proposed among other things the introduction of VAT on children's shoes, thus causing the Dáil to be dissolved and Fine Gael to lose power.

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