Politics

Rachel Reeves Blasts Tory ‘Pickpockets’ After Hunt’s Autumn Assertion

Rachel Reeves has accused the Tory Chancellor of “pickpocketing” the public in his autumn statement.

Labour’s shadow chancellor said Jeremy Hunt should have come to the Commons to “ask for forgiveness” — a reference to Matt Hancock’s plea in the I’m A Celebrity jungle.

Hunt set out plans to for stealth taxes as well as a squeeze on public spending to help balance the nation’s books in a statement on Thursday.

Reeves said he had handed the nation an “invoice for the economic carnage” caused by Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget — which sent the pound plunging and sparked higher mortgage rates.

In a 50-minute long statement in the Commons, the chancellor warned that high earners would have to pay more tax under his plan to plug a £55 billion hole into the government’s finances.

Reeves responded: “As I was coming into Westminster today, I read a timely warning from the police about pickpockets in the area.

“They warn, ‘you may have an idea of ​​what a pickpocket looks like, but they’re far less likely to stand out in a crowd than you might think’.

“They may work in teams to distract the target’ and ‘one of their tactics is where a thief will appear to be over-friendly while pickpocketing you’.”

The chancellor said he was “asking those with more to contribute more” after he tried to repair the damage done to the economy by Covid-19, the war in Ukraine and last month’s mini-budget.

Hunt announced that he was reducing the salary threshold at which workers begin paying the 45p top rate of income tax from £150,000 to £125,140.

However, it is not just the better paid that will be affected after Hunt froze the salary thresholds for other income taxes — meaning more workers will be dragged into paying the 20p and 40p rates.

Reeves went on: “In the last hour, the Conservatives have picked the pockets of purses and wallets of the entire country as the chancellor has deployed a raft of stealth taxes taking billions of pounds from ordinary working people.

“A Conservative double whammy that sees frozen tax thresholds and double-digit inflation erodes the real value of people’s wages.

“Just one of those freezes, in the personal allowance, will cost an average earner more than £600.”

She said that while the government was attempting to displace blame for the economic turmoil on “global” factors such as the war in Ukraine, “this was a crisis made in Downing Street”.

“What does the chancellor have to offer today? More of the same, with working people paying the price for his failure,” the Labor MP said.

“The chancellor should have come here today to ask for forgiveness, at the very least he could have offered an apology, but no.

“Instead he says that his predecessor was correct in his analysis at the mini-budget, the mini-budget that put our economy into freefall.

“All the country got today was an invoice for the economic carnage that this government has created.”

She added: “The mess we are in is the result of 12 weeks of Conservative chaos, but also 12 years of Conservative economic failure.”

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