Sunak introduces the ‘Triple Lock Plus’

Another day, another big policy pledge from the Tories – and this time it’s a pitch for the grey vote. Rishi Sunak is pledging to cut tax for pensioners. A Conservative government would increase the personal allowance for pensioners in line with the Triple Lock by introducing a new age-related allowance. It is being billed as the ‘Triple Lock Plus’ whereby both the state pension and their tax-free allowance rise in line with the highest of earnings, wages or 2.5 per cent. As things stand, tax thresholds are being frozen for three years – which would not only drag five million more into higher tax bands but mean the basic

Jeremy Hunt is the ‘unity’ leader the Tories need

Liz Truss is now prime minister in name only: Jeremy Hunt, her chancellor of the exchequer, now holds power. He has repudiated her tax-cutting mini-Budget in a round of media appearances – his performances being far more convincing than Truss’s graceless eight-minute press conference on Friday. His admission that spending cuts will be needed and that ‘some taxes are going to go up’ to balance the books has injected a much-needed dose of realism. The question on everyone’s lips is: what will Hunt do now? Is he a stalking horse for a new PM (Rishi Sunak being the obvious candidate) or is the former head boy at Charterhouse himself a

The Tories abandon fiscal conservatism at their peril

And then there were two. Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss now go to the membership. There’s much talk today about how brutal this contest will be. Penny Mordaunt’s supporters were arguing this morning that people should vote for her to avoid pitting these two against each other. But that would be false comfort. The argument between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak is one that the Tory party needs to have. Fiscal responsibility has been the Tories’ anchor for years On one side stands Sunak, who I have known for many years. He cleaves to the old Thatcherite position that the first thing to do is to get inflation under control. He believes

Rishi Sunak’s low tax pitch to MPs

Is Rishi Sunak a low tax chancellor? He certainly likes to tell anyone who will listen that he is. Yet his actions tend to suggest the opposite. The tax burden is currently on track to reach its highest level since the early 1950s, and while Sunak unveiled one big tax slash in the Budget in the universal credit taper rate cut, the main thrust of Sunak’s announcements was spend, spend, spend. Tonight Sunak addressed Tory MPs at a meeting of the 1922 committee. After announcing £150 billion in extra public spending, Sunak sought to convince his party that, despite this, he was committed to lowering taxes. Having said in the chamber that

It is hard to take Sunak’s jobs plan seriously

At some point, Rishi Sunak is going to need to pick a lane. There is only so long that the Chancellor can claim to believe that excessive borrowing is immoral while borrowing to such excess. His trick yesterday was to make all the right noises about restraint while unrolling a £500 million ‘plan for jobs’. Take away his earnest delivery and it’s still not clear whether he’s the boozer at the bar telling the world about the dangers of alcoholism, or the sensible friend ordering the taxi home. Let’s be fair. Sunak has had to deal with exceptional circumstances in the last 18 months, and is taking steps to cease

Sunak faces the free-marketeers

Rishi Sunak didn’t give too much away tonight when he spoke in the ‘ThinkTent’ at Conservative Party Conference. The Chancellor is known for being cautious with his words, and has been increasingly tight-lipped in the weeks leading up to his October Budget. But his presence at the fringe event was telling in itself. Sunak was only billed for one public fringe event this year, co-hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs and Taxpayers’ Alliance. Their ‘ThinkTent’ boasts some of the most free-market, libertarian events you’ll find at conference: both organisations are strong advocates for a low-tax, smaller state. So, not necessarily an obvious place to find the Chancellor who has overseen record peacetime

This was a Budget for the end of the Covid crisis

The Chancellor’s crisis management has been excellent. The Budget was another reflection of that, as Rishi Sunak unveiled further significant, targeted support to the areas of the economy that needed it most. Over the last year, fiscal policy has acted as the main shock absorber for the economy. Including measures announced today, a massive £352 billion has been spent on Covid support. This approach has been fully justified, with low inflation, rates and yields providing ample fiscal space. Debt dynamics have allowed the government to borrow cheaply from investors. Also, as we have seen over the last year, the Bank of England’s Quantitative Easing programme has led it to become

How Rishi Sunak outshone Corbyn’s five years in one speech

If Jeremy Corbyn had been saving his energy by giving a poor performance at PMQs, he wasn’t saving it for his Budget response. He sounded bored, almost as though he too is fed up of waiting for the Labour leadership contest to trundle to an end so that he can pack off and not have to respond to economic statements. Beside him, John McDonnell looked a little envious that the final big fiscal event of the duo’s time at the top of the party was the one Corbyn got to respond to, rather than the Shadow Chancellor. He even failed to notice that the debate was being chaired – as

Full text: Rishi Sunak’s Budget statement

Rishi Sunak unveiled his first Budget today. The Chancellor has promised a £30bn war chest for tackling coronavirus. There is also £6bn of new funding for the NHS, a new £2.5bn pothole fund and £5.2bn for flooding defences. Here is his full speech: I want to get straight to the issue most on everyone’s mind– coronavirus COVID19. I know how worried people are: worried about their health, the health of their loved ones, their jobs, their income, their businesses, their financial security. And I know they get even more worried when they turn on their TVs and hear talk of markets collapsing and recessions coming. People want to know what’s

Forget the Budget – who is Rishi Sunak’s tailor?

I was at a straight forward shooting weekend up in North Yorkshire in early January. During elevenses, passions around Brexit and the general election were fiery even before the sloe gin had kicked in. From the estate owner to the gamekeepers and beaters, they all said the same thing, “we saw it coming”. They poured scorn on some MPs who had returned their seat, from both sides of the political divide. Most fascinatingly, they all agreed on something one of them said, “well we have Rishi Sunak as our MP and he is terrific.” I’ll take their word for it. Not wanting to get too bogged down in the politics