Jeremy Hunt has dismissed forecasts of Brexit’s hit to the UK economy and Liz Truss’ mini-budget has caused long-term damage.
The Chancellor also denied that his autumn statement was an over-reform that would cost the Tories the next election.
Speaking in Sky’s Beth Rigby interview, Mr Hunt repeatedly said he did not “accept” the Office of Budget Responsibility’s prediction that Brexit would lead to a 4% reduction in GDP over the long term.
“I do not accept 4%,” he said, arguing that the fiscal watchdog’s forecast was based on a scenario where no other changes were made that could affect the size of the economy.
He claimed that with the decisions taken in last week’s budget, “the slowdown, the impact on GDP is much less than what it would have been. And there is a lot of development on the other side”.
“My statement on Thursday showed how we are going to build a different economy outside the EU, with higher skills, higher wages, the world’s next Silicon Valley, and our own rules.”
Asked if he only accepts figures he likes, he said: “I accept the ones I agree with and I don’t accept the ones I don’t.
“Which I don’t agree with, because he is saying that absent other changes, this effect can occur.”
Mr Hunt regretted the disastrous tax-cut bonanza by his predecessor Kwesi Kwarteng and former prime minister Ms Truss, but denied it had hurt the economy in the long run.
“I acknowledge that we have had a rocky period in the past few months.
“I wish we didn’t have what happened with mini-budgets and all the turmoil there.”
However, the chancellor said he did not “recognise” an estimate by the Resolution Foundation think tank that Ms Truss’ mistakes could cost the country up to £30 billion.
“The tax measures were largely reversed in the mini-budget, so I do not accept that analysis,” he said.
“I don’t believe there was any long-term effect because the measures he introduced were reversed so quickly.”
Mr Hunt refused to apologize for the financial chaos, saying “actions speak louder than words”.
“I think we’ve shown that we think what happened was wrong. We’ve fixed it and we’ve got the country back on track.
Mr Hunt revealed a £25bn tax hike in his autumn budget, causing concern among some Tory backbenchers and allegations it was an over-reform from Ms Truss’ tax-cut plans.
When asked whether the budget was bad for the party’s political fortunes, he said: “No, because I really think in the end, that’s why people vote Conservative, because they rely on us on the economy to make difficult decisions.” Trust us. That’s what we did.
“I think what people want from a Conservative government is a team of people who will make the difficult decisions, even if it is good for their political fortunes, because it is what is right for the country.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /