London: Britain’s new finance minister warned Saturday of tax hikes to come as he admitted to “mistakes” made by his short-lived predecessor in a disastrous budget.
Jeremy Hunt was making his first comments to media following his appointment as chancellor of the exchequer by Prime Minister Liz Truss, whose own future is in doubt mere weeks after she took office.
“We will have some very difficult decisions ahead,” Hunt told Sky News, warning that “all government departments” face spending restraint.
“And some taxes will not be cut as quickly as people want. Some taxes will go up,” he added.
Tax cuts were the centrepiece of the budget announced by Hunt’s predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng on September 23. But they were financed through billions in more borrowing, causing panic on financial markets which has fed into higher costs for British households.
Truss fired Kwarteng on Friday and rowed back further on the planned tax cuts, but is facing threats of being toppled by senior Conservative MPs aghast at the party’s collapse in opinion polls since she replaced Boris Johnson on September 6.
“There were mistakes,” acknowledged Hunt, a former health and foreign secretary who is seen as a centrist Tory brought in by Truss to steady her listing ship.
Kwarteng and Truss had initially wanted to cut taxes for the highest earners, and had presented their budget without independent forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, Hunt noted in summarising two key mistakes.
“The prime minister’s recognised that, that’s why I’m here.”