Jacob Rees Mogg has claimed George Osborne deserves more credit than Rishi Sunak for how the UK economy coped with the pandemic.
The Brexit Opportunities Minister, who is backing Liz Truss for leader, also denied the country faces going back to massive cost-cutting measures under a new PM.
In an exclusive GB News Interview when asked if we were heading back to austerity under the new Prime Minister, Mr Rees-Mogg said:
“No. But you should always ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent well. The programme of austerity that George Osborne followed left the public finances in a state where we could afford a crisis.
“And so that was a very successful policy and has led to our current economic strength.
“Economic policies have quite a long period before they come to fruition and I think we need to apportion the credit correctly.”
Mr Rees-Mogg disputed a suggestion that the UK’s relatively good debt ratio was down to Rishi Sunak:
“Actually, if you take account of quantitative easing, which is £875 billion of money that the Government owes to itself, we have a debt to GDP ratio of below 60%.
“If you want to credit anybody, the person this should be credited to is George Osborne. What George Osborne did between 2010 and 2016 meant that we were able to afford the pandemic.
“The money we spent, the £408 billion on the pandemic would not have been affordable without the way George Osborne handled the economy, and I think he hasn’t got enough credit for his very important work.”
He was speaking during an interview on Breakfast with Isabel Webster and Mark Longhurst on GB News and was asked about attending Boris Johnson’s delayed wedding celebrations in Gloucestershire.
“It was a private party. It was a very happy occasion.
“The leaking culture is bad enough within government but for private events I think goes a bit beyond the pale, so forgive me but I won’t gossip.”
Asked about Penny Mordaunt’s support of Liz Truss after accusing her of dirty tricks, he said:
“I think that tells you something about the Conservative Party. We are ultimately all on the same side.
“We want to win elections and we want to keep the socialist out because we think they’d be ruinous for the country.
“Whoever wins in the end will have loyal support from Conservative members up and down the country and Penny has shown that and shown that to my mind with considerable grace.”
On Liz Truss being a former Liberal Democrat member, Mr Rees-Mogg said:
“I think it shows great wisdom to be able to change your mind that if you discover that your opinion is wrong, what do you do? Do you bash on with the wrong opinion for years and years? What do you say?
“I have seen the error of my ways and I’ve seen the truth of conservatism. And Liz Truss realises that conservatism is better for the country. I think that’s admirable.
“And it has to be said, I grew up in a pretty Tory household and I ended up being a Tory, whether I would have been a Lib Dem if I’d grown up in the Lib Dem household must be a moot point.”
“The Conservative Party is always challenged by different parties. You can never take electoral success for granted.
“We have to govern well that the key to being re-elected is that we get the right economic policy and this is where I think Liz is so strong that she has policies that will both deal with the cost of living and take the burden off people by keeping taxes down rather than promising tax cuts in the long term future.”