Rishi Sunak’s spending “marks a shift in Tories’ philosophy” of downsizing, key ally says
- Simon Clarke said there has been a shift in economic philosophy among conservatives
- Major think tanks said Sunak’s spending largely unrelated to Covid
- Under government, state size expected to reach its highest level in decades
- The budget was a massive departure from established conservative economic policy
Yesterday, a key ally of Rishi Sunak proclaimed a “philosophical shift” in conservatism, with experts suggesting the pandemic was not the driving factor behind the chancellor’s huge spending.
Simon Clarke, chief secretary of the treasury, said public spending was increasing because the government believed the state had a role to play in achieving its political priorities.
He accepted that it was a break with conservative orthodoxy in the days of David Cameron and George Osborne, who downsized the state.
Under Mr. Sunak, the size of the state and the tax burden are expected to reach their highest level in decades.
At times, the Chancellor appeared to suggest that the government’s actions were forced by the Covid pandemic, the biggest economic shock in 300 years.
Simon Clarke (right) and Rishi Sunak (left) pictured ahead of Wednesday’s budget
But yesterday, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said 80% of the additional spending announced in Wednesday’s budget had nothing to do with the pandemic.
Economists said the majority of the increase in spending was the result of the chancellor’s decision to increase spending on health, social protection and other priorities, regardless of the pandemic.
Mr Clarke described the Tories’ shift in philosophy to BBC Newsnight on Wednesday.
“We recognize that the state has a role to play in achieving some of our political priorities and the Chancellor has been very open that this is a philosophical shift, if you will, from Cameron-Osborne, “he said. .
When asked if the new conservatism was “high spending and high taxes”, he replied: “What we want to see is stimulate the economy, unleash productivity and generate more even growth at the same time. across the UK.
“It requires upfront expense. We don’t mind the fact that we’re making big, big calls in terms of investing in our infrastructure.
The budget deviated from the usual conservative doctrine of low taxes and a small state
Mr Clarke has supported the chancellor’s pivot away from traditional Conservative economic policies
Tory MP John Redwood said: “I’m not sure what the Chief Secretary was talking about because the Chancellor has been very clear that government cannot do everything. He said at the end of the budget that we need less taxes and a smaller state.
“I want to see first-class healthcare and education, but we also need to ensure productivity and value for money. This is why I do not agree with the government on its specific tax increases such as the increase in national insurance, which is a tax on jobs.
“I am on the Chancellor’s side: the economy must return to a type of politics to bring us faster growth. And we’re going to get faster growth if we don’t hit people’s incomes as much as we do with this increase in the NI.
The IfS has also said that if things go well, Mr Sunak may be able to cut taxes by £ 7bn ahead of the next election thanks to a war chest he has amassed. On Wednesday, the chancellor said his “goal” was to “cut taxes” even though he introduced the highest tax burden since the 1950s.