Britain’s Prime Minister speaks to business leaders against a sombre backdrop

(Alliance News) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to address business leaders on Monday as the country braces for tough tax hikes and spending cuts.

The speech to the CBI, which is expected to focus on innovation, comes just days after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced £25 billion in tax increases in a budget aimed at boosting market confidence in the UK, according to Liz Restore Truss’ own catastrophic mini-budget.

The tough tax hike plan has raised concern among some Tory backbenchers, although the Prime Minister is unlikely to face a full-scale rebellion over his budget plans.

Away from Westminster, Sunak is expected to receive a tough message from businesses during the Birmingham conference, with CBI Director-General Tony Danker urging the new government to end rows over Brexit and use immigration to solve labor shortages as a way to boost growth .

Downing Street was forced over the weekend to categorically deny a Sunday Times report that the government may seek a Swiss-style relationship with the EU to avert a possible clash with pro-Brexit MPs.

A government spokesman said: “This government is focused on using our Brexit freedoms to create opportunities that drive growth and strengthen our economy.”

But the CBI chief is expected to denounce concerns over the still-unresolved dispute with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol as one of the biggest brakes on growth.

“Boris Johnson has reached an agreement with the EU that allows us to continue trading duty and quota free with our largest trading partner. There’s some good stuff in there. Currently closed,” Mr. Danker will say in his opening speech.

“But we are still arguing about the Northern Ireland Protocol. We still argue about sovereignty. Sit down a table, make the deal, unlock the trade and cooperation agreement. I say to Brexiteers, the best guarantee for Brexit is an economy that grows.

“The biggest risk is one that doesn’t do it.

“Now I know that some of these things will not be popular with politicians. But while I have no problem with governments making tough choices to create stability, I want them to make tough choices for growth too.”

Forecasting that the UK is already in recession, Danker will also say at the conference: “The painful reality of growth is that it cannot be stimulated overnight. That’s what got the mini-budget wrong.

“General tax cuts. Immediate demand stimulus. Relying on old British strength – consumption – at the expense of perpetual British weakness – investment – has given growth a bad name.”

The CBI chief commends Hunt for “staying the course” on projects aimed at generating growth, such as the HS2 rail and the new nuclear power plant, and will also offer the government various solutions to tackle the flagging economy to boost.

Referring to persistent “barriers to growth,” Danker will urge politicians to “be practical” about immigration.

“Let’s have economic migration to areas where we won’t be bringing the people and skills home any time soon.

Labor accused the Conservatives of breaching their own budget rules 11 times since 2010.

“The Conservative fiscal rules are not worth the paper they are written on,” said Pat McFadden, Labor Party shadow secretary at the Treasury Department.

“The Tories not only spent 12 years severely weakening our economy, they crashed it in the midst of a livelihood crisis and made working people pay the price.”

A Treasury spokesman did not dispute Labour’s claim but said: “Like the rest of the world, Britain has been hit by severe economic shocks in recent years, from the Covid-19 pandemic to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“These are not challenges unique to the UK.

“Despite these global challenges, we are determined to get public finances back on track and the Autumn statement sets out a clear plan to fight inflation and reduce debt while supporting growth and public services.”

Source: PA

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