Jeremy Hunt "Not Taking Anything Off The Table" On Possibility Of Reversing More Tax Cuts
Jeremy Hunt has said he is “not taking anything off the table” when it comes to the possibility of ditching anymore of Liz Truss’ proposed tax cuts (Alamy)
Jeremy Hunt has said he is “not taking anything off the table” when it comes to the possibility of ditching more of Liz Truss’ proposed tax cuts, but insisted that the under-pressure Prime Minister is “in charge” after a turbulent week.
The new Chancellor - the fourth in four months - reiterated that he would ask every government department to find "efficiency savings” as ministers try to balance the books following last month’s 'mini-Budget' which provoked turmoil in the markets.
The Prime Minister has already been forced into u-turning on two major policies from that statement, as she committed on Friday to ditch her commitment to scrap the corporation tax rise, having already cancelled the abolition of the 45p top rate of income tax.
However, Truss’ future remains in the balance, with one senior Tory backbencher warning this morning that “things have to improve” after a few weeks in which “the government has looked like libertarian jihadists and treated the whole country as kind of laboratory mice."
Hunt, who was appointed after Truss sacked her long-term ally Kwasi Kwarteng on Friday, told the BBC that “actions speak louder than words” when it comes to reassuring the markets and committed to his financial statement at the end of the month being verified by the independent watchdog, which did not happen in September.
Speaking to host Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday morning, he said: “The Prime Minister has changed her Chancellor.
“We are going to have a very big fiscal statement - a bit like a budget in which we set out the tax and spending plans for several years ahead and that's going to be independently verified by the Office for Budget Responsibility.
“We've been honest that it was a mistake not to do that in the mini budget before and that is now going to be sorted out.”
Asked if he could rule out scrapping any more tax cuts promised by Truss, he added: “I'm not taking anything off the table.
“I want to keep as many of those tax cuts as I possibly can because our long term health depends on being a low tax economy and I very strongly believe that.”
Hunt, who has run twice to be prime minister, insisted that Truss "is in charge” when asked, but the comments come amid widely reported dismay on the backbenches, just six weeks into her premiership.
Senior Tory MP and chair of the Education Committee Robert Halfon told Sky News that recent weeks have seen “one horror story after another” and that he had constituents who are “frightened” about finances.
Speaking to the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, he said: “Over the past few weeks, the government has looked like libertarian jihadists and treated the whole country as kind of laboratory mice in which to carry out ultra free market experiments.
“And this is not where the country is, there's been one horror story after another.”
Halfon explained that in his constituency this weekend following recent events “one person after another expressed dismay, but one or two people actually said to me that they were frightened.
“Frightened about everything that had gone on, worried about their payments, worried about their mortgages, worried about their small business and I don't want a government where people come up to me in the street and say they're frightened.”
The Conservative MP for Harlow said that “at this time” he is not calling for Truss to quit, but added that “things have to improve.”
Elsewhere, US President Joe Biden said the proposed tax cuts Truss has since reversed on were a “mistake” but that it was “up to Great Britain” to ultimately pass judgement.
Speaking on a trip to an ice cream parlour in Oregon, in a rare criticism of an ally’s domestic policy, Biden said the outcome had been “predictable” and added: "I wasn't the only one that thought it was a mistake”.
He went on to say: "The idea of cutting taxes on the super wealthy [...] I disagreed with the policy, but that’s up to Great Britain to make that judgement, not me.”
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe