Jeremy Hunt said he regretted the turmoil caused by Liz Truss’ mini-budget, but he doesn’t think it caused any long-term economic damage.
The independent Resolution Foundation estimated that mistakes made by the former prime minister cost the UK £30billion, while Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, called it one of a series of economic ‘own targets’ that have led to the UK’s bleak outlook.
But Mr Hunt told Sky News Beth Rigby interview schedule: “I don’t recognize those numbers from the Resolution Foundation.”
He added: “I don’t think there was any long-term impact because the measures they introduced were undone so quickly.
“I think what the world wanted to see was that the UK was not going to spend money it didn’t have and was committed to paying off its debts. And Rishi Sunak and I- even gave them this assurance.”
However, he said he accepted “we’ve had a tough time over the past two months”.
“I wish we hadn’t had what happened with the mini-budget and all the turmoil that happened there,” he said.
When Ms Truss announced a series of unfunded tax cuts in September, it contributed to the financial chaos that saw markets plummet, the value of the pound plummet, mortgage rates soar and forced the Bank of England to intervene to prevent the collapse of pension funds.
It ultimately led to his downfall as Mr Hunt was drafted in to reverse nearly every economic policy that won him the Tory leadership election triggered by Boris Johnson’s resignation.
Mr Hunt refused to apologize for the turmoil, saying ‘actions speak louder than words’.
“I think we’ve demonstrated that we think what happened was wrong. We fixed it and got the country back on track,” he said.
The Chancellor presented his long-awaited autumn statement to Parliament last Thursdaylittered with stealth taxes and public spending cuts amounting to £55billion in a bid to plug the black hole in public finances.
The measures will see around 55% of households deteriorate, according to the Treasury’s own analysis, while the Independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned UK household disposable income would fall by 7.1% over the next two years – the largest drop ever recorded.
Mr. Hunt has accepted “difficult times” await us but insisted his tax hikes were not “just misery for misery”.
“It was to make sure we really had that bright future that everyone wants,” he said.
He repeated his insistence that the problems facing Britain’s economy are global, as he dismissed forecasts of the impact on trade caused by Brexit.
Hunt denies being behind story of ministers considering Swiss-style Brexit deal
The OBR predicts that Brexit will lead to a 4% reduction in long-term GDP, representing around £100bn in trade losses and around £40bn in tax revenue.
But Mr Hunt said he did not accept those figures.
“I don’t accept that Brexit is the cause of the great economic difficulties we are facing,” he said.
“Brexit is a choice Britain has made as a country. And whether we get it right or not, it’s a choice we now have to make.
“The main reason for the decline in our economic situation is the rise in international energy prices.”
Mr Hunt was speaking in Birmingham after meeting apprentices working on the HS2 program.
Some Tory MPs have spoken out against the costly plan, with backbench MP Esther McVey saying she would not support his tax hikes unless the plan is scrapped.
However, Mr Hunt said the project was an integral part of the Tories’ leveling scheme.
“We’re not going to compromise on really big projects that make a difference to our economy. And HS2 is one of them.”