Sajid Javid defends Tory claim Labour would spend an extra trillion pounds amid 'fake news' row

Posted On: 
10th November 2019

Chancellor Sajid Javid has defended the Conservatives' election claim that a Labour government would usher in more than one trillion pounds'-worth of extra public spending over the next five years.

The Chancellor stood by his party's figures - but Labour branded them 'utter nonsense'.
Credit: 
PA

​The Cabinet minister insisted the party had given "the true cost of Corbyn's Labour" amid anger from the opposition over the £1.2tn claim.

But he refused to be drawn on the Tories own tax-and-spend plans, and said the party had "in some cases" used its own estimates for the cost of Labour's plans.

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The 35-page Conservative dossier claims that Labour would increase government spending by 30% - equivalent to £650m a day - over the expected five-year length of the next Parliament.

The Tories claim the cost of Labour's 2017 manifesto pledges amount to £600bn - with a further £590bn of "reckless promises" made since then.

The figures include Labour's pledges on renationalising rail, energy, water and postal services, and the Conservatives use a £196bn figure from the CBI business group which has been strongly disputed by Labour.

It also assumes that Labour would immediately sign up to a 32-hour working week, a trial the Centre for Policy Studies think tank has said would cost £85 billion, and take all private schools into public ownership.

But Labour, which has yet to set out its 2019 election manifesto, has dismissed the dossier, with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell branding it "fake news".

"This ludicrous piece of Tory fake news is an incompetent mish-mash of debunked estimates and bad maths cooked up because they know Labour’s plans for real change are popular," he said.

Mr Javid doubled down on the document on Sunday, telling the BBC's Andrew Marr show: "What we've set out today is the true cost of Corbyn's Labour."

And he added: "Every single costing in this dossier that we've published today?  It's either come from Labour's own figures... actually, over 50 percent of the costings are from Labour's own figures. 

"The rest of them have either come from independent external sources and in some cases yes, we have had to work them out ourselves, but we've done that in a reasonable way and we've set out exactly in the document how we've done this."

But Mr Javid refused to be drawn on whether the Conservatives' own manifesto would include a raft of high-profile tax pledges made by Boris Johnson during the Conservative leadership race.

Mr Johnson vowed to increase the threshold at which people start paying the 40p income tax rate to £80,000, up from its current level of £50,000.

Asked if that pledge would feature in the Tory election document, the Chancellor said: "We will set out our plans during the course of this election campaign. 

"When we've published the manifesto you'll see what we've got to say on tax."

Mr Johnson has also pledged to raise the point at which people start paying national insurance in a bid to help low-earners. 

But Mr Javid said: "I'm not going to set out the entire manifesto today but these are all good questions and we will during the course of this campaign set out exactly what we're going to do with tax."

'SQUILLION'

Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth meanwhile accused the Conservatives of peddling "utter nonsense" with their £1 trillion attack on Labour's spending pledges.

He told Sky's Sophy Ridge: "I didn't know if it was trillion or a gazillion, or maybe a squillion. A googolplex, perhaps.

"We are going to publish our manifesto in the coming days and everything will be costed, unlike the Tory manifesto of a few years ago."

And he quipped: "The reason I am laughing is that I used to do this rubbish for the Labour Party when I was a bag-carrier years ago. 

"I used to go through obscure Tory MPs and add up all the spending commitments and then Gordon Brown would stand there and say: 'We can now reveal the Tories are planning billions in tax cuts.'

"So I know exactly what the Tory researchers have done because I used to do it... But when I did it it was accurate of course."

Fellow Labour frontbencher Andrew Gwynne meanwhile confirmed that a so-called 'Clause V' meeting, at which Labour chiefs decide which party conference pledges have made it into the election manifesto, will take place on 16 November.