Chancellor Rishi Sunak refuses to rule out tax rises

The Chancellor has refused to comment on future tax rises, and did not rule out breaking other manifesto commitments after he reneged on a promise to keep the overseas aid budget.

Rishi Sunak told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m not going to get drawn on future fiscal policy.”

He insisted that the Government intends to return the aid budget to 0.7% of gross national income when fiscal circumstances allow.

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“We made a choice yesterday to prioritise people’s jobs, public services and helping this country get through coronavirus. I think it is a choice that the British people will support.”

The Chancellor has refused to comment on future tax rises, and did not rule out breaking other manifesto commitments after he reneged on a promise to keep the overseas aid budget. (Photo by Jack Hill - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

His comments come after a fierce backlash against the cut to foreign aid from several of his Conservative colleagues.

The move prompted Foreign Office minister Baroness Sugg to quit in protest, calling it “fundamentally wrong”.

Other Tories critical of the move included former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell and chairman of the Commons defence committee Tobias Ellwood.

On Brexit, Mr Sunak told Today: “I remain hopeful and confident that we can find a path to a deal.

“There’s lots of good work going on; I think if people maintain a constructive attitude and bring a spirit of goodwill to the table we can get there – the shape of what a deal looks like is very clear.”

Rishi Sunak declined to comment on whether taxes would rise next year to pay for the fall out from the coronavirus crisis.

The Chancellor told BBC Breakfast: “It wouldn’t be appropriate for chancellors – any chancellor – to speculate about future tax policy because that has real-world implications.

“As you would find from any chancellor, they would talk about fiscal policy at a Budget, and obviously we will have one in the spring – we normally have them in the autumn.”

Mr Sunak said the scale of borrowing undertaken this year is “not sustainable” but that “now is not the time to address that”.

“But once we get through this and we have more certainty about the economic outlook we will need to look at how we can make sure we have a strong set of public finances.”

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