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Jeremy Hunt tells Andrew Marr tax cuts are “virtually impossible”

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Jeremy Hunt tells Andrew Marr tax cuts are “virtually impossible”

Hunt also, speaking on LBC, noted that HS2 costs risk getting “totally out of control.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has told Andrew Marr that making tax cuts is ‘virtually impossible’ due to huge government debts and has said that he has a ‘set of very difficult decisions’ ahead of the Autumn Statement.

Speaking on Tonight with Andrew Marr on LBC, Mr Hunt also told Andrew that the UK is ‘finally starting to win this battle’ against inflation, called Al Gore’s criticisms of the government’s Net Zero commitments ‘unfair on the UK’ and reflected on the resignation of Rupert Murdoch.

On whether the news on interest rates holding means there is headroom for tax cuts, Mr Hunt told Andrew:

 ‘Andrew, you are such a seasoned operator, you will know that every Chancellor wakes up to a newspaper headline, at least once a week that says there’s extra headroom, and the Chancellor might be able to do this or might be able to do that. I really, really wish it was true but unfortunately, it just isn’t. If you look at what we are having to pay for our long-term debt, it is higher now than it was at the Spring Budget.

I wish it wasn’t, it makes life extremely difficult, it makes tax cuts virtually impossible, and it means that I will have another set as frankly very difficult decisions. All I would say is if we do want those long-term debt costs to come down, then we need to really stick to this plan to get inflation down, get interest rates down. I don’t know when that’s going to happen. But I don’t think it’s going to happen before the Autumn Statement on November 22nd.’

 Asked by Andrew if it is good news that the Bank of England will hold interest rates at 5.25%, Mr Hunt replied:

‘Absolutely. It’s good news for families. It’s good news for businesses. What it says is the Bank of England thinks we may have hit the peak. But Andrew Bailey, the Governor of Bank of England has been very clear we cannot be complacent. And what I would say to your listeners, Andrew is that the fight against inflation never happens in a straight line. There are always ups and downs, but the big picture is that we are finally starting to win this battle.’

Asked if he could commit to the Manchester leg of HS2 being built, Mr Hunt said:

‘I’m not going to comment on discussions that are happening at the moment, because as Chancellor, you would expect me to be having discussions with the Prime Minister, when major infrastructure projects overrun in their costs. And that’s what we’re facing with HS2… I understand, but they [Red Wall MPs] will also be worried if we have an infrastructure project where the costs are getting totally out of control.

‘And that’s why you would expect me as Chancellor to be having discussions but let me say to you now, Andrew, we haven’t made any decisions on this. We are looking at all the options. But we do need to find a way of delivering infrastructure projects that doesn’t cost taxpayers billions and billions of pounds.’

 

Reflecting on the resignation of Rupert Murdoch, Mr Hunt said:

‘Well, he is someone who love him or loathe him, had a defining influence on all of our lives over the last half century. I mean, his support for Margaret Thatcher in the Wapping dispute, was an extremely important moment in her leadership. And she benefited enormously from his support. I recognise there’ll be lots of other things that he’s done over the years that people disagreed with. But I don’t think anyone would disagree this was an absolutely formidable operator…

‘I think I had moments of feeling different emotions when it came to Rupert Murdoch, if I’m completely honest, Andrew, but as he’s stepping down today, I will just say simply this, I do have enormous respect for someone who was one of the giants of his era.’

Responding to criticism from former US Vice-President Al Gore that the UK government’s changes on commitments to Net Zero are ‘shocking and really disappointing’, Mr Hunt said:

‘I think that’s unfair on the UK. I mean, we’ve reduced our emissions by more than anyone else, 48%, last time I looked at the number that compares to 41% in Germany, 23% in France. We have done more than anyone else in this area. But what the Prime Minister is saying is we do have to be honest with people, that there are costs and trade-offs involved and we have to carry ordinary families with us. And if we don’t, we’ll see what happened for example, in Germany, where there’s been a huge reaction, a huge amount of hostility and anger, to the move to air sourced heat pumps.

‘And we are saying that we are absolutely committed to these climate change targets. We’re the only country in the world that has a target to reduce the emissions by 78% by 2037. And as far as international investors are concerned, I think what the Prime Minister said yesterday, was right, there is more certainty and confidence that we are going to deliver our climate change targets if we have a plan that is pragmatic, reasonable and is going to actually carry the public with us.’

LBC’s Tonight with Andrew Marr. Follow the conversation on @lbc & @andrewmarr9

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