Philip Hammond warns Tory leadership candidates unfunded pledges will leave party 'naked' against Labour
The Tories will end up “naked” in the fight against the Labour party at the next election if leadership hopefuls continue to make unfunded tax cuts and spending pledges, Philip Hammond has warned.
The Chancellor said the party was at risk of losing its reputation for “fiscal responsibility” as candidates for the top job fight to appeal to the Tory membership and the country.
He made the comments as Sajid Javid - one of those vying for the premiership - hinted that he could scrap the top rate of income tax if he becomes Prime Minister.
The Home Secretary told the Sunday Telegraph: “If it can be demonstrated that a further cut in the additional rate can raise more taxable revenues that should be looked at.
“If I was Prime Minister, my intent would be to do as much as I can to keep cutting taxes on personal income.”
But in an article for the same paper, Mr Hammond warned: “I want to make doubly sure that the Conservative party does not throw away one of its greatest assets - its reputation for fiscal responsibility - in a bidding-war of unfunded spending and tax cutting pledges by the candidates.”
He added: “If we are tempted down this route, we abandon one of our party’s proudest achievements and most enduring hallmarks: fiscal responsibility.
“And then, when the next general election comes, we will find ourselves standing naked in front of a Labour party which knows no fiscal discipline at all and will always outbid us in a war to borrow the most.”
Tory leadership contender Mark Harper meanwhile echoed the Chancellor as he warned fellow candidates against making a string of election pledges.
The former chief whip said he would not make any commitments “I know I might be unable to deliver”.
And he warned: “If the next general election is about who can dream up uncovered spending pledges and spray taxpayers’ hard-earned money about, we’ll never beat Jeremy Corbyn.”
Elsewhere, fellow hopeful Dominic Raab told the Sun on Sunday he could save consumers up to £4bn a year by tackling big companies that use rip off tactics.
He said he would change rules to allow smaller firms to boost competition, including making it easier to switch mobile phone contracts and ending hidden charges for foreign currency conversions.
The former Brexit Secretary declared: “Maybe I’m the underdog in this contest but I’ll be the underdog fighting for the underdog.”