The fall-out from the Autumn Statement has been brutal. I cannot remember a set of newspaper front pages as hostile to the Conservatives in my two decades reporting on British politics. (Chopper in The Telegraph writes)
Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, said today that “we know we are doing the right thing for the long term” as he argued the “difficult decisions” he has taken will guide the UK to a more prosperous future.
But Tories on the Right of the party are now deeply worried the measures Hunt has taken have choked off the possibility of economic growth ahead of the next general election.
As Fraser Nelson argues today, it is suspicious that Hunt has put off the major austerity measures until after the expected general election in late 2024. Does Hunt think the Tories have already lost?
As if that was not bad enough, the Chancellor’s comments to BBC Radio 4 today about closer working with the European Union are deeply alarming to Brexiteers.
He said: “I have great confidence that over the years ahead we will find, outside the single market, we are able to remove the vast majority of the trade barriers that exist between us and the EU.”
That prompted a very senior former Cabinet minister who was involved in the Brexit talks to tell me: “This sounds like the Chequers approach to me.” A return to the trauma of the Brexit wars is all we need right now.
Conservative MPs are this weekend meeting with the party’s grassroots supporters and pondering what to do next. A rebellion over the Autumn Statement for the way it attacks earners is already growing – but will enough Tories want to vote down elements of the mini-Budget?
David Jones MP, one of the most senior figures on the Tory Right, told me on today’s Chopper’s Politics podcast that unless some of the tax measures were reversed the Tories’ prospects of winning the next general election were “more remote”.
Tellingly Jones added: “One of the things that we as a party have got to be careful of is the voters looking at the Conservatives and looking at the Labour Party and saying, well, frankly, what’s the difference? Because that’s not the way that you win elections.”
Hunt’s other remarks today will not have helped ease Jones’ concern. The Chancellor seemed relaxed about net immigration running at over 200,000 a year. A penny for the thoughts of Home Secretary Suella Braverman who told me at the party conference last month that she wanted to get it down to tens of thousands a year.
And Hunt admitting he decided not to scrap the non-domiciled tax status for high net worth foreigners as it might affect the UK’s “attractiveness” to them is surely a gift for Labour given that Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty is still a “non-dom”, although she voluntarily pays UK tax on her global earnings.
A lingering concern for Sunak is his lack of mandate to be Prime Minister. The party’s members did not vote for him (he was installed as leader and PM by MPs who had earlier forced out the populist Boris Johnson), and he has never led the party in an election.
No wonder members of the Bring Back Boris campaign – previously on WhatsApp – met with some MPs at a high end restaurant in Soho on Wednesday evening.
Richard Tice’s Reform UK party – the renamed Brexit Party – is actively trying to capitalise on this concern with an aggressive social media campaign saying “the Tories choose to make us poorer” followed by the Trumpian slogan “Let’s Make Britain Great”.
I wonder if Tice (and Farage who has a handsfree involvement) are considering changing the name back from Reform UK to the Brexit Party for the next election. It must be tempting – and would seriously alarm the Tories.
TAP – No one trusts Reform. They are a limited company, and are all about making money for themselves. They do poorly in elections so far, and everyone’s had enough of Farage, after allowing his massive UKIP support to bring no results. The Teds are going to be far more appealing to voters with their campaign to ‘Save Our People’.
Hunt is doing all he can destroy the economy which will crash tax receipts. He’s always been the one keenest to tax people into poverty – himself an offshore billionaire with East India Company family background. He’s bringing in Labour pedocriminals to sit alongside him, a thoroughly nasty piece of work, fully on board with all the worst anti-human agendas. Do not vote for these criminals. They want us all gone. Support The Teds, who are still interested in human survival, the rule of law, peace, Brexit and putting the country back together again. Amazingly there is still a political party worth supporting but it will never get main media for that reason.