The Daily Telegraph

Tax rises are on the way, warns Chan­cel­lor

- By Gor­don Rayner PO­LIT­I­CAL EDITOR

RISHI SU­NAK has sig­nalled that tax rises are on the way, say­ing the Con­ser­va­tives will not “bor­row our way out of any hole”.

The Chan­cel­lor said the Gov­ern­ment would need to be “flex­i­ble” when asked if he might have to break the “triple­lock” pledge not to in­crease in­come tax, VAT or na­tional in­sur­ance in or­der to bal­ance the books af­ter the pan­demic.

He said that if the Tories ar­gued there was “no limit on what we can spend … what is the point of us?”

The 40-year-old also tried to kill off spec­u­la­tion about any ri­valry be­tween him and Boris John­son, by say­ing he “def­i­nitely” did not want the Prime Min­is­ter’s job and praised him for hav­ing “got it right on the big calls”.

In his speech to the vir­tual Con­ser­va­tive party Con­fer­ence, Mr Su­nak said “hard choices are ev­ery­where” as he tries to work out how the coun­try will even­tu­ally pay for the eco­nomic cost of Covid- 1 9 which has s oared past £300 bil­lion.

He said: “We will pro­tect the pub­lic fi­nances, over the medium term get­ting our bor­row­ing and debt back un­der con­trol. We have a sa­cred re­spon­si­bil­ity to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to leave the pub­lic fi­nances strong, and through care­ful man­age­ment of our econ­omy, this Con­ser­va­tive Gov­ern­ment will al­ways bal­ance the books.

“If in­stead we ar­gue there is no limit on what we can spend, that we can sim­ply bor­row our way out of any hole, what is the point in us?”

Mr Su­nak added: “I have never pre­tended there is some easy cost-free an­swer − hard choices are ev­ery­where.”

In a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion later, asked whether he might have to break the tax triple-lock man­i­festo prom­ise, he said the coun­try was fac­ing a “once in a cen­tury” event which meant it was un­likely the Gov­ern­ment would meet “ev­ery sin­gle” pledge.

He said: “Most party man­i­festos con­tain many, many dif­fer­ent pledges and you ob­vi­ously want to do your best to ful­fil as many of them as pos­si­ble … our man­i­festo also had some rules around bor­row­ing and debt, so it’s pretty safe to say those are go­ing to be tricky to meet.

“We have to re­spond flex­i­bly so I think the val­ues and the prin­ci­ples in that man­i­festo are ones that we be­lieve very strongly in, and con­tinue to.”

The Chan­cel­lor’s com­ments ap­pear to con­firm that the Trea­sury is plan­ning tax rises at some point, hav­ing post­poned the au­tumn bud­get un­til next year be­cause of the cur­rent eco­nomic un­cer­tainty. Many economists have urged the Chan­cel­lor to cut taxes to stim­u­late eco­nomic growth.

The run-up to the con­fer­ence has been over­shad­owed by re­ports of ri­valry be­tween No 10 and No 11, af­ter Mr Su­nak ap­peared to dis­tance him­self from Mr John­son’s lock­down poli­cies by say­ing peo­ple should live “with­out fear”.

Asked if he even­tu­ally wants to move into No 10, he said: “No. Def­i­nitely not, see­ing what the Prime Min­is­ter has to deal with, this is a job hard enough for me to do.”

He added: “We have a close per­sonal friend­ship which then spreads through the teams where there’s an enor­mous amount of mu­tual trust.” Mr Su­nak said his two daugh­ters’ “favourite thing in the world” is Mr John­son’s dog Di­lyn. “Our fam­i­lies are very joined at that moment,” he said.

In his speech he went out of his way to praise Mr John­son, say­ing: “I’ve seen up close the bur­den the Prime Min­is­ter car­ries. We all know he has an abil­ity to con­nect with peo­ple in a way few politi­cians man­age. It is a spe­cial and rare qual­ity.

“Yes, it’s been dif­fi­cult, chal­lenges are part of the job, but on the big calls, in the big mo­ments, Boris John­son has got it right and we need that lead­er­ship.”

 ?? − ?? Boris John­son and Rishi Su­nak demon­strate elec­tric car charg­ing points on a visit to the head­quar­ters of Octopus En­ergy London start-up tech com­pany which hopes to cre­ate 1,000 new jobs across the UK a
− Boris John­son and Rishi Su­nak demon­strate elec­tric car charg­ing points on a visit to the head­quar­ters of Octopus En­ergy London start-up tech com­pany which hopes to cre­ate 1,000 new jobs across the UK a

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