Starmer criticises ‘arms race of fantasy economics’ from Tory leader hopefuls

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Sir Keir Starmer is set to take aim at an “arms race of fantasy economics” from Tory leadership hopefuls, claiming more than £200 billion of commitments made over the weekend were unfunded.

The Labour leader will hit out at “hypocrisy” from those who served in Boris Johnson’s Government, declaring they “trooped through the voting lobbies” to back tax hikes despite being “opposed to them all along”.

It comes after Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid both said they would not only scrap the ex-chancellor’s plans to raise corporation tax from 19% to 25% in April, but reduce the rate to 15%, in separate leadership bids.

In addition, Mr Javid said he would do away with the Government’s controversial national insurance hike, bring forward the planned 1p income tax cut to next year, and introduce a further “significant” temporary reduction in fuel duty.

Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt
Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt both said they would scrap the ex-chancellor’s plans to raise corporation tax (Chris Jackson/PA)

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, newly appointed Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Attorney General Suella Braverman and former minister Kemi Badenoch have also pledged to curb taxes.

All apart from Mr Hunt served in the outgoing Prime Minister’s administration prior to his downfall, when they were bound to publicly back Government policy in line with the principle of collective responsibility.

Delivering a speech in the North East on Monday, Sir Keir is expected to say: “I cannot believe what we are hearing from the candidates to be the next Tory leader.

“The vast majority of them served in Boris Johnson’s Government. The hypocrisy is nauseating.”

Sir Keir will also accuse those seeking the top job of “fantasy economics”.

He will say: “Over the weekend, the contenders have made more than £200 billion of unfunded spending commitments. Let that sink in.

“That’s more than the annual budget of the NHS, splurged on to the pages of the Sunday papers, without a word on how it’ll be paid for.

“I can tell you now – you’ll never get that from me. When I say decency and honesty matter, that means being honest about how we fund every single thing we promise you.”

He will make the case that Labour will “explain every pound” of its pledges when it fights the next general election.

“When I say we are going to pay for kids to catch up at school, I also say that’ll be funded by removing private schools’ charitable status,” he will say.

“Or when I say we need to sort out mental health treatment in this country, I also tell you that we’ll do it by closing tax loopholes used by hedge funds.

Keir Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“We’ll explain every pound because Labour will fight the next election on growth. And the first line of the first page of our offer will be about wealth creation.”

Sir Keir will claim Britain is “stuck” with a “tanking economy”, with taxes going up and food and energy bills “out of control”, and pledge a “fresh start” with a Labour administration.

“Only Labour can reboot our economy and end the cost-of-living crisis. Only Labour can revitalise our public services and re-energise our communities. Only Labour can unite the country and clean-up politics,” he will say.

“These three tasks will define my government because until we address them we leave ourselves vulnerable to the kind of shocks and crises we have all endured this past decade.”

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