Kwasi Kwarteng says he ‘won’t be drawn in’ by budget questions
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Chancellor Rishi Sunak will set out the government’s tax and spending plans on Wednesday and ahead of the budget meeting, BBC Breakfast host Louise Minchin was keen to find out what was planned. However when she asked Mr Kwartneg for suggestions about what could be unveiled, she was promptly shut down and told to wait for Wednesday’s speech in the House of Commons.
“Can you talk to us about – we know it’s £350billion have been borrowed – We’ve heard from Lord Hague that taxes will probably have to be increased to pay that back. What can you tell us about that?” Minchin asked.
Kwarteng replied: “Well there’s a couple things I want to stress about that. What happened last year with coronavirus and the lockdowns was completely unprecedented and the chancellor did exactly the right thing at the time.
“That is he supplied enough credit into the economy through loans helping businesses and the furlough scheme which was really appreciated by businesses, big and small.
“That cost £285billion, that’s what he spent, and it was completely the right thing to do.
“What he’s also said is we can’t simply going on spending money forever but for the moment our job is to make sure we protect this country and the livelihoods of millions of people and the way to do that is to do what the Chancellor has done and provide considerable support.”
“Do you favour, for example a tax on companies that have done well in the pandemic?” Minchin asked.
Kwarteng answered: “What I favour, and I’m a Conservative, I’ve always favoured low tax Conservative, the best way to grow an economy is to promote enterprise, small business and larger businesses as well.
“But at a time like this, our focus is to keep things going and supporting, providing vital support to families and businesses at a vital time.”
“Okay so for example, you wouldn’t tax or you’re not suggesting that’s going to happen tax on some companies that have done extremely well during the last year, for example, delivery companies?” Minchin asked.
Kwarteng snapped: “Louise I’m not going to be drawn in. I know you’re trying to extract things from me.
“I don’t know the budget and it would be wrong for me to have got previous sight of it.
“It’s going to be introduced in the House of Commons tomorrow, there is a lot of sensitive information the
Chancellor might not want to divulge, even to close cabinet colleagues.
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“We’ll have to wait and see what happened tomorrow, I think it will be a good budget and it will be doing what he’s been doing for the past year which is supporting business, supporting families.
“I’m afraid we’re just going to have to wait and see and we can discuss the particular measures after the budget has been delivered.”
Ahead of the budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has teased details what can be expected.
He has promised more money to help with the vaccination rollout and a £5billion to help the High Street reopen.
Mr Sunak has also hinted at a mortgage guarantee scheme to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder.
However it is likely the Chancellor will also be unveiling plans to raise taxes.
BBC Breakfast airs daily on BBC One at 6am.
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