Sunday, 22 September 2019

Sajid Javid ramps up spending as election talk mounts

Credit: PA Images

LONDON: British finance minister Sajid Javid said he was “turning the page on austerity” as he promised the biggest spending increases in 15 years, a move widely seen as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s push for an election to break the Brexit impasse.

“After a decade of recovery from Labour’s great recession, we are turning the page on austerity and beginning a new decade of renewal,” Javid told parliament on Wednesday, taking aim at the opposition Labour Party.

Day-to-day spending, adjusted for inflation, would jump by 4.1pc in the next financial year, the first after Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union on Oct. 31, he said.

In his first major speech since taking over the public purse strings in July, Javid promised more money for “the people’s priorities” – education, health and the police – after a decade of tight spending controls that have frustrated voters.

He promised an “infrastructure revolution”, more funding for the armed forces and social care, and no cuts for any government department next year.

Opposition spokesman John McDonnell, who could soon take Javid’s job as finance minister if Labour wins any early election, said the announcement was a sham.

“To come here to try and fool us with references to ‘people’s priorities’ is beyond irony,” McDonnell said. “We are expected to believe that these Tories, who for years have voted for harsh, brutal austerity, have had some form of Damascene conversion.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies, an independent think-tank, said the plan would reverse about two-thirds of the day-to-day spending cuts, adjusted for inflation, made since 2010.

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