Rishi Sunak has claimed handing over the economy to Keir Starmer would be “just as dangerous” as having Liz Truss in charge.
Outlining how he planned to cut taxes in a “responsible” way, ahead of Wednesday’s autumn statement, the prime minister claimed Sir Keir and Rachel Reeves wanted to continue the “big spending approach”, pointing to the opposition’s £28bn green business plan.
In an extraordinary attack on his predecessor’s policies, Mr Sunak then said Labour’s approach to spending would put Britain at the same risk as Ms Truss, who was ousted after big tax cuts which triggered an economic collapse.
“This makes the same economic mistake as last year’s mini-budget – blowing tens of billions of pounds on unfunded spending is just as dangerous as blowing tens of billions of pounds on unfunded tax cuts,” Mr Sunak said.
It came as Mr Sunak hinted at business tax cuts to boost economic growth as he promised to reduce the tax burden “carefully and sustainably”.
Althought he declined to give any specifics ahead of the autumn statement, he stressed that the focus is “very much the supply side” of the economy in a signal that business tax cuts are more likely than personal ones.
Mr Sunak said he was able to move on to the “next phase” of the government’s economic plan after inflation fell to 4.6 per cent in October. He said he was taking “five long-term decisions” for the economy and public finances.
They would focus on reducing debt, cutting tax, building sustainable energy, backing British businesses and delivering world-class education.
In a speech at a London college, he said: “We will do this in a serious, responsible way, based on fiscal rules to deliver sound money, and alongside the independent forecasts of the Office for Budget Responsibility.
“And we can’t do everything all at once. It will take discipline and we need to prioritise. But over time, we can and we will cut taxes.”
He repeatedly refused to “pre-empt” any decisions ahead of the financial statement, but said: “We will prioritise, we will be disciplined and our focus is very much the supply side and growing the economy.”
Although Mr Sunak has met his own pledge of halving inflation in 2023, the rate of the Consumer Prices Index is still well above the Bank of England’s 2% target.
The prospect of tax giveaways comes ahead of a general election expected next year and with the Tories seeking a boost to turn around opinion polls which have shown consistent Labour leads.
In a direct pitch to voters, Mr Sunak said they could trust him on the economy as he brandished his background “working and investing in businesses large and small”.
“Whether you like me or not, I hope you know that when it comes to the economy, when it comes to your job, your family, your incomes, I’ll always take the right decisions for our country,” he said. “So now you can trust me when I say that we can start to responsibly cut taxes.”