Gordon Brown is said to be a cautious man, but today he will take the gamble of his life - with the future of the British economy at stake.

The Prime Minister is expected to cut VAT by 2.5 per cent, in a move which will cost the Treasury £12 billion.

And make no mistake, while the Chancellor will be the one announcing the changes to the House of Commons today, it is Mr Brown who is in the driving seat.

That much was evident yesterday, as he took to the television studios to defend the package before it had even been formally announced. Of course, key points had been briefed behind the scenes to many of Sunday’s newspapers.

While there might still be some surprises today, the theme is clear. Taxes will be cut, paid for by borrowing which is already high, and set to rise higher.

This means, as ministers more-or-less openly admit, that the British taxpayer will be faced with a hefty bill to be repaid at some point in the future.

This borrowing can only be raised from tax revenues, which means one of two things. In a perfect world, the economy will recover, tax revenues will grow and the extra cash coming into the Treasury will be enough to pay off our debts.

But natural growth may not be enough. The other option is that taxes rates need to rise in order to raise the revenue to start repaying Government borrowing.

For Mr Brown, the justification for taking action today is clear. The British economy needs help now, and failing to inject money into the system will only delay recovery, potentially leading to even more problems in the future.

His opponents are caught in a bind. The Conservatives have traditionally been the party of tax cuts, but also of fiscal responsibility. They believed in the importance of balancing the books.

David Cameron, the Tory leader, will need to decide today whether to oppose the bulk of the Pre Budget Report, on the grounds the country cannot afford it – and let Labour paint him as the man who believes in “doing nothing” to help the economy.

The reality is that nobody can be certain at this stage whether tax cuts fuelled by borrowing will ultimately do more good than harm. But we must hope Mr Brown’s gamble pays off, as the stake is the nation’s future prosperity.