London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Jeremy Hunt says tax cuts will only come ‘when the time is right’

Jeremy Hunt says tax cuts will only come ‘when the time is right’

Jeremy Hunt has signalled tax cuts will only come “when the time is right” and be matched by “spending restraint”, as he sought to temper restive Conservative backbenchers’ expectations ahead of the budget in March.
However, the chancellor said he hoped to inject what he described as much-needed optimism about the country’s future, saying he wanted Britain to “have nothing less than the most competitive tax regime of any major country”.

He initially declined to comment on his own tax affairs, when asked if he had ever had to pay a penalty to HMRC after the Tory chair, Nadhim Zahawi, was reported to have done so.

“I’m not going to talk about my personal tax affairs, but I don’t think there’s anything you’d find interesting to write about,” Hunt told journalists on Friday, adding that people were not “remotely interested in personal tax affairs”.

But he went on to say in an interview shortly after: “For the record I haven’t paid an HMRC fine.”

The confirmation came after a gruelling week for the government, when ministers’ tax affairs have come under increased scrutiny after the investigation launched into Zahawi’s finances.

Zahawi has admitted to making a “careless but not deliberate” error, and not denied suggestions he paid a penalty as part of a roughly £5m settlement for non-payment of capital gains tax due after the sale of shares in YouGov, the polling company he co-founded.

Though the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has permitted the former chancellor to continue serving as Conservative chair while his ethics advisers looks into the issue, several MPs have publicly said he should stand down.

Hunt faced embarrassment when he was health secretary in the coalition government after it emerged the Hotcourses firm he co-founded breached company law and was restructured resulting in a tax saving of about £100,000, and so sought to draw attention back to the government’s pledge to boost the economy on Friday.

In a speech at Bloomberg, the chancellor targeted economic inactivity and urged those who retired early after the Covid pandemic, or struggled to find a new job after the furlough scheme ended, to rejoin the workforce.

“We need you, and we will look at the conditions necessary to make it worth your while,” the chancellor said.

Hunt blamed Britain’s woes on “economic headwinds” that affected many countries, citing favourable growth statistics, and inflation remaining higher in 14 European Union countries. “Declinism about Britain is just wrong,” he said.

However, after pressure from Tory MPs – including the Conservative Growth Group founded by allies of Liz Truss – Hunt stressed that investment would only follow financial stability, and gave little hope that his March budget would reduce the tax burden.

“Confidence in the future starts with honesty about the present,” he said.

Hunt said “we need lower taxes” and that high rates “affect the incentives” of businesses to invest, but stressed that “sound money must come first”.

“Our ambition should be to have nothing less than the most competitive tax regime of every major country,” he said, but that would mean “restraint on spending”.

The creation of “mini-Canary Wharfs” – how Hunt dubbed the plan to reinvent Truss’s low-regulation, low-tax “investment zones” – was promised, with details about where they would be located to be announced “shortly”.

Hunt took aim at Labour, citing Keir Starmer’s pledge not to reopen the big government chequebook. The chancellor claimed the party had since made tens of billions of unfunded spending commitments.

After a cabinet away-day at Chequers, where ministers discussed gloomy polling, Hunt signalled his ambitions would not be realised immediately – paving the way for further announcements in the run-up to the next election about ways to boost growth.

“This is a project that is not going to happen in the next 18 months or the time span before the next election,” Hunt said. However, he still tried to provide hope to glum Tory MPs, adding: “Even in really difficult times, we can make incredible progress.”

Labour said Hunt and Sunak had no plan to fix “13 years of Tory economic failure”.

Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, said: “Britain has so much potential. From creating good, new jobs in the industries of the future, to making our country the best place to start and grow a business, Labour’s proper plan for growth will grasp those opportunities and make our economy stronger to face up to the challenges.

“Thirteen years of Tory economic failure have left living standards and growth on the floor, crashed our economy, and driven up mortgages and bills.

“The Tories have no plan for now, and no plan for the future. It’s time for a Labour government that will build a better Britain.”

Related Articles

London Daily
Campaigners Urge UK Government to Block Shein's London IPO
UK Labour Government's Legislative Agenda
UK Labour Government to Regulate Powerful AI Models
Record Heat Temperatures in Ukraine Amid Power Crisis
UK Government Plans to Remove 92 Hereditary Peers from House of Lords
King Charles III Delivers Labour Government's First King's Speech
Officials Remove 'Disastrous' Label from Liz Truss's Mini-Budget
Keir Starmer Outlines Ambitious Plans for Government
Japan to Allocate $3.3 Billion to Ukraine Using Frozen Russian Assets
EU Parliament Condemns Hungarian PM's Russia Visit
FBI Struggles to Find Motive Behind Trump Shooting Incident
Kremlin Criticizes EU Rejection of Orban’s Ukraine Peace Proposal
Google and Microsoft Now Consume More Power Than Several Large Countries
Secret Service Criticized for Lack of Sniper Protection During Trump Shooting
US Senator Robert Menendez Found Guilty of Corruption
Deep Concerns about Political Violence as US Approaches Election Day
Trump Media Shares Surge Following Re-Election Bid Boost
The gunman who attempted to assassinate Donald Trump Saturday is 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks
Banksy's Influence on Port Talbot's Street Art Scene
Bodies of Two Men Found in Suitcases on Bristol Bridge, 24-Year-Old Arrested
Kate Middleton to Attend Wimbledon Men's Final Amid Cancer Recovery
Russia's Electronic Warfare Neutralizes Western Weapons in Ukraine
Trump Challenges Biden to Debate and Golf Match
Macron Accuses Israeli Minister of Election Interference
US Senator Highlights Weaknesses in Western Military Industry During Ukraine Conflict
George Clooney Urges Biden to Withdraw from Presidential Race
Political Shift in the UK: A Detailed Analysis of Labour's Victory and Future Prospects
Viktor Orbán's Peace Mission: A Diplomatic Controversy in the EU
India Advocates Peace and Prosperity: PM Modi's Speech in Austria
New UK PM Keir Starmer Reaffirms Strong Support for Ukraine at NATO Summit
Spain PM Pedro Sanchez Denounces Double Standards on Gaza at NATO Summit
UK Police Arrest Suspect in Crossbow Attack After Three Women Killed
Sunita Williams Safe on ISS, to Address Earth on July 10
Biden Affirms Commitment To Presidential Race
France Faces Political Turmoil and Airport Strikes Ahead of Paris Olympics 2024
Putin Hosts PM Modi for a Private Meeting
TSMC: The Taiwanese Chip Giant Valued Over $1 Trillion
Boeing Pleads Guilty Over 737 MAX Crashes
2024 Predicted to Be World's Hottest Year
Iran's President-Elect Masoud Pezeshkian Reiterates Support for Hezbollah
White House Denies Biden Being Treated for Parkinson's Disease
Biden to Meet New UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer
Biden Insists on Continuing Presidential Race Amid Criticism
UK Defence Minister Pledges Enhanced Support to Ukraine
French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal Resigns After Election Setback
Macron Faces New Political Challenges Despite Election Relief
France's Far-Right Falls Short in Parliamentary Elections
Key Figures in France's Left-Wing New Popular Front Bloc
England Reaches Euro 2024 Semifinals After Penalty Shootout Win
Rishi Sunak Apologizes After Historic Tory Defeat