Foreign Secretary Says Next Week's Spending Plans Could Be Delayed
James Cleverly in Downing Street after he was reappointed Home Secretary (Alamy)
James Cleverly has said he is “not able to confirm” whether the financial statement originally planned for October 31 will still go ahead on that date, as new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is reportedly considering a delay.
The Foreign Secretary said that a “short delay” to the medium term fiscal plan would be “not necessarily be a bad thing at all” as Sunak and the reappointed Chancellor Jeremy Hunt “want to get this right”.
On becoming Chancellor, Hunt had promised he would use a Commons statement next Monday to lay out further details of the government’s upcoming tax and spending plans, amid warnings that sweeping cuts to public funding could be on the horizon to plug a gap of tens of billions in the government's finances.
The detail is expected to reassure markets after Liz Truss’ mini-Budget caused turmoil in the British economy. But the Times reported this morning that Sunak is now considering a delay to the October 31 proposed date.
Sunak is due to meet Hunt today on his first full day as Prime Minister, the newspaper reports.
Speaking to Sky News this morning, Cleverly – who has also been reappointed from Liz Truss’ government – said he has not “had specific confirmation of dates”, but having been chancellor previously, Sunak will have “a very good understanding of the figures” and be “working closely” with Hunt.
“We know people want certainty,” he said.
“We know people want a clearer idea of the government’s plans. Whether it happens exactly on that day, I’m not able to confirm at the moment.”
Cleverly reiterated his message in an interview with BBC Breakfast, where he pointed out that Sunak has been in office as Prime Minister for “less than 24 hours”, and October 31 is “only a couple of days away”.
“If that means a short delay in order to make sure that we get this right, I think that is not necessarily a bad thing at all,” Cleverly insisted.
Sunak will hold his first Cabinet meeting this morning, before he faces Labour leader Keir Starmer for the first time at Prime Minister’s Questions this lunchtime.
Sunak appointed his Cabinet ministers yesterday afternoon, and appointed a number of former Truss backers after criticism that his predecessors surrounded themselves with only loyalists to the detriment of experienced and balanced governing.
He has faced a tricky balance to reward some of his key backers without alienating other parts of the party, but in a controversial move, he re-appointed Suella Braverman as Home Secretary just six days after she was forced to resign from government having been found to have breached the ministerial code.
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