Rishi Sunak vows to balance books after coronavirus as a 'sacred responsibility'

Rishi Sunak has vowed to balance the books after the coronavirus spending and claimed doing so was a “sacred responsibility to future generations”.

Monday, 5th October 2020, 1:32 pm
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. Picture: Leon Neal/PA Wire
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. Picture: Leon Neal/PA Wire

In a speech at the virtual Tory Party conference, the Chancellor promised to get debt “back under control”.

Making an address that will spark fears of spending cuts and tax rises, Mr Sunak said: “We will protect the public finances.

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“Over the medium term, [we will be] 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.”

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The Chancellor also suggested there would not be a point to a Tory party that simply borrowed its way out of trouble.

He explained: “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?

“I have never pretended there is some easy, cost-free answer.

“Hard choices are everywhere.”

Mr Sunak once again admitted he could not save every job or business, but insisted the Government would protect people.

He explained: “So, I am committing myself to a single priority – to create, support and extend opportunity to as many people as I can.

“Because even if this moment is more difficult than any you have ever faced, even if it feels like there is no hope, I am telling you that there is, and that the overwhelming might of the British state will be placed at your service.

“We will not let talent wither or waste. We will help all who want it, find new opportunity and develop new skills.”

Despite ending the furlough scheme, the Richmond (Yorks) MP insisted the Government had done all they could to support people.

He said: “What began in March as a health emergency has grown and now reaches deep into our economy and society.

“Not only does it endanger lives, but jobs and education. It separates friends and family.

“This government has never been blind to the difficult trade-offs and decisions coronavirus has forced upon on us.

“If we had, we never would have deployed one of the most comprehensive and generous packages of support in the world.”

Mr Sunak announced a new job support programme last month to replace the furlough scheme, allowing workers to get 77 per cent of their normal pay for working 33 per cent of their hours.

No further measures were announced in his address, but Mr Sunak insisted he would keep looking for ways to help.

He said: "I won't stop trying to find ways to support people and businesses. I will always be pragmatic."

The Deputy Leader of the Labour party Angela Rayner labelled the speech "thin gruel".

She tweeted: “Millions facing unemployment, thousands of businesses on the brink of collapse and that's it?

“The message from this Tory government to the public is clear - it's back to the same old Tory ideology and you're on your own now.”

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