James Cleverly: 'I'd rather have our Budget than what Labour are doing'

James Cleverly: 'I'd rather have our Budget than what Labour are doing'

Monday, October 29, 2018

Conservative deputy chairman James Cleverly rubbished the Labour Party’s financial strategy ahead of the Autumn Budget, calling it "pie-in-the-sky".

Joining Julia Hartley-Brewer on the talkRADIO breakfast show, he said the Conservative party was getting the economy “back into balance”

“Both the PM and the Chancellor say we want to keep the success we’ve had getting people into work going, we want to ensure we get productivity up,” he said

“That means unblocking some of these pinch points like roadworks, traffic jams, that kind of stuff.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond will announce a £300 million fund to fix potholes in the roads and £28.8 billion to improve roads across Britain.

“We’re getting those income tax receipts, we’re getting more money coming in than people have predicted, we’re having to pay out less than predicted, so we’re getting the economy back into balance,” said Mr Cleverly.

“That’s why we can afford to relieve some of the pressure people have been feeling over the last few years.”


Labour 'pie-in-the-sky' approach

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell at the Labour Party conference, September 2018. Image: Getty

Hartley-Brewer asked whether this “makes a mockery” of the negative forecasts on a post-Brexit economy, “if the HMRC or the Treasury cannot work out with three months notice how much they’re going to get in tax?”

Cleverly responded that the Treasury are “naturally cautious” and said the Conservative approach was “sensible” compared to Labour.

“We can’t do what Labour are doing, which is pretending there are no difficult decisions ahead and overcommitting public funding to each and every thing that comes into their head,” he said.

“We’re taking the sensible balanced pragmatic approach that keeps the economy on the tracks, but also recognises the pressure people have in their everyday lives.”

He added: “What Labour are doing - if you do this pie-in-the-sky, headline-grabbing, I-can-spend-money-to-dig-myself-out-of-any-challenge [approach] - we can’t do that.

“We have to be more balanced, we have to be more sensible, and sometimes that means a little less razzmatazz, but again I’d rather be that than do what Labour are doing.”


'We've crunched the numbers'

At the Labour conference in September, shadow chancellor John McDonnell called for nationalisation of the water industry and a cut to executives’ pay, and laid out plans to make employees part-owners of the companies they worked for and cut dividend payments.

The party also announced they'd dedicate £13.5 million to services for people with alcohol addiction, and impose a higher tax on second homes.

“We’ve crunched the numbers and there was a trillion pounds - a thousand billion pounds - of hidden spending commitments in the Labour manifesto,” continued Cleverly.

“£500 billion of which, there was no reference at all to where that money would come from.”


Alternative Brexit budget

As for Mr Hammond’s hint that a no-deal Brexit may necessitate a different Budget being drawn up, Mr Cleverly said: “That’s stating the bleeding obvious.

“The difference between what we’d have to do with our economy in the event of a good deal with the EU and no deal with the EU, would be quite significant.”