Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Starmer says he fears Tories will ‘salt the ground’ with pre-election spending

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Sir Keir Starmer fears the Tories will “salt the ground” by squandering money in pre-election giveaways which would leave an incoming Labour administration facing difficult spending decisions.

The Labour leader said he expected Jeremy Hunt to use the Budget and a possible second financial statement later this year to set political traps.

The Chancellor and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have indicated they hope to use any improvement in the public finances to cut taxes as the Tories seek to overturn Labour’s opinion poll lead.

If Labour wants to increase or even simply protect spending on public services that could mean Sir Keir being forced to say he would reverse promised tax cuts or seek alternative methods of funding – through increased taxes, borrowing or pinning his hopes on economic growth.

Sir Keir said public services “are in a much worse position” than they were when the Tories took office in 2010 and as prime minister his focus would be on growing the economy to generate funds.

That would mean breaking the “doom loop” of low growth and high taxes under the Conservatives, he told reporters in Westminster.

“There’s no doubt that after 14 years, our public services are in a much worse position than they were at the start,” Sir Keir said.

“And there’s a basic rule in politics, as far as I’m concerned, which is, whichever party you are, if you leave your country worse than when you found it, that is unforgivable. And that’s the position we’re in at the moment.”

ECONOMY GDP

He referred to a recent YouGov poll which suggested 62% of Britons would like the Government to prioritise public services over tax cuts.

“I did see the poll, whether the Chancellor read the poll and what he makes of it remains to be seen. And we’ll see what the Budget brings in early March.”

But he added: “I think it’s very obvious that they are trying to salt the ground. So they’re not acting in the national interest, they’re acting in the party interest.

“They briefed the autumn financial statement out as a series of traps for Keir Starmer and the Labour Party.

“Taking my Leader of the Opposition hat off, that means they have totally neglected the national interest.

“They are not even pretending that they are making decisions in the best interests of the country, they are making decisions in the best interests – as they see it – of the Tory party and their best chance of creating divides into the election.

“That’s why we’re in this mess.”

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt will deliver his Budget statement on March 6 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Sir Keir labelled the Prime Minister “Mr 25 Tax Rises”, but he declined to say how he would address the tax burden if he entered No 10.

“I’m not going to set out lock, stock and barrel, what we’re going to say in our manifesto, before we’ve seen the Budget,” he said.

“We’ve got at least one fiscal event before the election, possibly two, depending on when it ends up being.”

But he said there was “no question” that Labour wants to “reduce the burden on working people”.

“Our first focus is going to be on growing the economy and making sure that the yield from the economy goes up, because there’s a reason we’ve got high taxes now, after 14 years, and the reason is because we’ve got low growth.

“This is the doom loop that they’re in. And we intend to break that doom loop.”

Conservative Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott said: “Despite previously supporting our tax cuts, Keir Starmer now says cutting taxes for working people is ‘salting the earth’.

“He is getting his excuses in early for raising taxes to pay for his £28 billion unfunded spending spree because he doesn’t have a plan.”