‘I’ve rolled with the punches’ says Chancellor as he continues with high growth agenda

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Photo credit: GB News

The Chancellor says his medium-term Fiscal Plan WILL be published on November 23rd as planned and will not be brought forward.

In an exclusive interview with GB News, Kwasi Kwarteng said there had been no change on his roadmap, despite claims from Government sources the date could be moved.

He told Liam Halligan: “People have been reading the ruins and the pauses, it’s going to be the 23rd.”

His commitment to that date was one of a number of revelations in a wide-ranging interview which also saw him defend his recent budget, saying he doesn’t believe it was extreme while admitting he should have “pitched things better”.

Meanwhile, he also insisted that he enjoys a good relationship with the Bank of England.

Speaking exclusively to Liam Halligan on GB News he said: “There were lots of things going on. Obviously, the mini budget itself was bold and we were focusing on growth, and we wanted to reduce taxes. And I think all elements of the market may have been surprised at the boldness of the package.

“But of course, there was also a global context. It’s very important to remember that at the beginning of last week, the dollar was hitting highs, 20-year highs against the Euro, 50-year highs against the Yen, and the Bank of Japan had to intervene to support the Yen.

“And this was all up against the background of the Fed. The US Fed, was really pushing up interest rates. So there was a global picture, I don’t deny that there was some market reaction to the budget, because it was a bold, it was a bold offer.”

He told GB News he did not think the package was extreme: “I don’t think it was extreme, I think it was very much what we decided to focus on. It was bold. We hadn’t done anything like that.

“We reversed this whole cycle of a 70-year high tax take… and the IMF were predicting the lowest growth rate of the G7. We had the highest tax take in 70 years and the path we were on was unsustainable, and I thought that what we should do is actually try and reduce taxes. And that’s what we’ve done.

“Nobody’s arguing that we should put up corporation tax, nobody’s arguing that we should have, we shouldn’t have reversed the National Insurance increase. In fact, Labour have said that they would, they would stick to that.

“We’ve shifted the debate and I’m hopeful that over the next few weeks that things will stabilise. But also we will be able to get growth in this economy and to have incentives.

“There were so many other packages, policies about the enterprise investment scheme, allowing people to invest more in that annual investment without sticking to a million pounds so that companies can actually get investing.”

Asked if he would do anything differently, he told Liam Halligan: “I think there were things, you know, it was a very quick time that we did it. And so you’ve got to remember the context. I mean, what was extraordinary about that month, was that we had a new Government.

“And also we had the sad passing of the Majesty Queen Elizabeth. So we had a nation in mourning. And then literally, four days after the funeral, we had the mini budget, it was high speed, high pressure environments.

“We could have, as David Cameron used to say, prepared the pitch a bit better, but what you got to remember is that five weeks ago, we were in the middle of an energy crisis. And the energy intervention actually was the most significant thing that we did, as part of the mini-budget.

“That was the bit where we showed real leadership about an energy crisis, where people were facing £6,500, potentially in their bills next year and we intervened.”

On the higher rate of tax, he said: “We’ve postponed that, we’re not going to abolish the top rate. We’ve listened and we always listen.

“I remember the 2012 budget, there were lots of measures there that were reversed. But we listened on that, but that was just one measure…

He added: “All we wanted to do was to set the debate and I was very focused on trying to make the UK a competitive place… the top rate in Ireland, it’s 40%. 

“And we thought this is a way to make Britain more competitive because ultimately [it’s] more to grow the pie as opposed to just having an argument about resistance.”

Mr Kwarteng said: “We haven’t postponed that, we’ve actually decided not to proceed with it and we’re going to focus on the bits of the plan that we can do.

“There were really, really good, really good measures in the budget, we reduced the IR35. Lots of people were very happy about that, the entire enterprise investment scheme, we’ve prolonged that, we’ve allowed people to put more money into that.

“We’re trying to attract business into the UK and those are the sorts of measures that lots of people were all saying this is really good. 

“The CBI, the CBI, the IoD, the FSB, the Federation of Small Businesses, are really happy about axing of the increase in National Insurance, because as employers, they have to pay National Insurance.

“So there was lots in the budget that was good, that was pro-growth, that was welcomed. And I felt that the 45p rate was overshadowing the entirety of the really good measures that we were announcing. And that’s why we decided to postpone, or to essentially, to not proceed with the abolition of the rate.

Asked if state benefits would be increased in line with inflation, he said: “It’s a very high inflation rate and wages I think are going up at 5% lower than the CPI but I haven’t made any decisions.

“There’s a consultation and the DWP secretary is looking at what the policy is going to be going forward and we’re having discussions with them about it.

“There’s always a healthy debate about these things but I haven’t committed to any particular decision, because we’re doing a consultation at the moment and we’re looking [at a] review of the public policy.”

On interest rate rises, he added: “One of the things that we’ve got to look at is the cost of living in the round. So there’s obviously mortgages and people are very focused on that and for people actually entering the market in terms of young people.

He added: “We’re trying to reduce energy costs. We’re trying to make sure that people can grow their incomes by growing the economy. Interest rates are right up again, across the world. I’m hopeful that inflation will come down, and then we won’t see huge interest rate rises.

“We’ve made interventions ready on energy, we’ve got the £400  discount, you’ve got the putting down the income tax that was on point, allowing people to have more of their own money.

“Our tax reduction measures…and the energy intervention means that there’s more money in people’s pockets. 

On his relationship with the Bank of England he said: “All I’d say about the Bank [of England] is that I get on very well with Andrew Bailey. I think he’s a really good professional. I think he’s a very focused, highly intelligent man.

“It’s really important that as a Chancellor of Exchequer, I have a good relationship with the government bank, and I’m very, very focused on that…he’s got a real interest in and depth of knowledge about the economy.”

Asked about his time in government, he said: “I’ve been in the Cabinet for two years nearly, and people forget that. We had the fuel crisis, we’ve had various steel crises.

“I’ve sort of rolled with the punches, as they say. There’s a lot of scrutiny in my job, rightly. There’s also the market elements, people are looking at what we’re doing.

“But also, I’m very convinced that we have to have a different path. The 70-year high tax rate was ridiculous, the tax being a 70-year high of GDP, that’s not sustainable, especially when you’re getting low growth.

“I was very, very focused on getting a high growth agenda and actually trying to reduce taxes so that people can keep more of the money.”

Credit: GB News

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