Rishi Sunak admits UK’s reputation ‘has taken a knock’ but refuses to apologise for mini-budget fiasco

Rishi Sunak attends a working session on food and energy security during the G20 Summit on Tuesday  (via REUTERS)
Rishi Sunak attends a working session on food and energy security during the G20 Summit on Tuesday (via REUTERS)

Rishi Sunak has admitted the UK’s reputation has taken “a bit of a knock” this year as he vowed to put to put the economy back on an even keel.

The Prime Minister made the comment ahead of Thursday’s Autumn Statement, set to include tax rises and spending cuts he says are needed to get a grip of inflation and spiralling UK debt.

Speaking to the BBC’s political editor Chris Mason at the G20 summit in Indonesia, he said reducing inflation was his “number one challenge” while a “limit” needed to be put on rising mortgage repayments.

“The best way to do that is to get a grip of our borrowing levels, and have our debt on a sustainable basis falling,” he added.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is looking to find up to £60 billion from a combination of hikes and spending cuts in his Autumn Statement.

Economists at the Resolution Foundation have calculated that Liz Truss’s disastrous so-called mini-budget in September - when uncosted tax cuts spark weeks of market turbulence - exacerbated the problem to the tune of £30 billion, while causing chaos in the mortgage market.

Asked how tarnished he felt Britain’s reputation was following the chaos, Mr Sunak said: “Obviously our international reputation took a bit of a knock as a result of some of things that happened more recently.”

But he declined to apologise for the mistakes of Ms Truss’s government that are expected to add billions of pounds of tax hikes and spending cuts to his budget.

The Prime Minister instead insisted that he will make “difficult decisions that are required to fix” the missteps of his Conservative predecessor in No 10.

During a round of broadcast interviews in Bali, Mr Sunak repeatedly refused to apologise for the Tories’ handling of the economy.

Instead, when pressed by Sky News, Mr Sunak said he has acknowledged “mistakes were made”, adding: “What I want to do now is fix them”.

“I think I demonstrated over the summer that I’m prepared to be honest with the country about the challenges we face and to make the difficult decisions that are required to fix them,” he said.

He did not repeat the comments of his Chancellor that “we’re all going to be paying a bit more tax” but said the approach on Thursday will be “fair and compassionate”.