Mini-budget seemed ‘designed to provoke markets’, Tory MP says

Politics

The mini-budget “seemed designed to provoke the markets” when they were already vulnerable, a backbench Tory MP has said, in the latest criticism of the new government from its own side.

Writing in The House magazine, Waveney MP Peter Aldous joined the criticism of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng‘s mini-budget last week.

He highlighted the lack of an independent forecast and parliamentary scrutiny as reasons why the fiscal statement was going down badly.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and other opposition parties have understandably reacted badly to the mini-budget, but there is growing disquiet among Tory MPs about the plan announced.

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Mr Aldous – one of the first Conservatives to call for Boris Johnson to resign – said he wanted the growth plan scheduled for 23 November to be brought forward.

The prime minister and chancellor held a meeting with Office for Budget Responsibility this morning, during which they said a forecast from the watchdog would be published on 23 November – more than seven weeks in the future.

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Speaking about the need for “sound money”, Mr Aldous said: “Nothing about the chancellor’s opening weeks at the Treasury have reassured me – nor, more importantly, the markets – in this regard.

“From the ill-advised dismissal of Tom Scholar to the dash to rush through fiscal policy measures without an accompanying OBR report or proper parliamentary scrutiny, actions have almost seemed designed to provoke the markets at a time when they were already demonstrably volatile.”

The government line is that international conditions led to the stormy conditions in the market since the mini-budget last Friday.

Speaking about Universal Credit, Mr Aldous said he wanted to see benefits given a real-term rise – with anything below that being “unconscionable to people given the government’s tax-cutting agenda elsewhere”.

The government has said that a review into the benefits uprating for next year will be carried out in the normal fashion.

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The Suffolk MP added that “tax cuts alone” are unlikely to get the UK to the target of 2.5% growth – and something more than “vague pledges” to cut red tape is needed as well.

He also said that something needed to be done to “address the UK’s chronically low productivity rates”.

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He is not the first Conservative backbencher to object to the cornerstone policy of the new government.

Former chief whip Julian Smith tweeted on Thursday that the government “must scrap” the axing of the top tax rate, and “take responsibility” for the issues the mini-budget caused in the market.

High Peak MP Robert Largan said that the current plan was “untenable”, and that “you cannot freeze benefits and pensions while cutting taxes for millionaires”.

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