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Analysis

Tory rivals dishonest to pretend they can spend billions

by Luke Lythgoe | 05.06.2019

The Conservative MPs jockeying to get into Downing Street rightly want to fix our schools, transport, police, housing and so forth. But they are not being straight. They can’t afford the billions – and sometimes hundreds of billions – they are promising unless they cancel Brexit.

Every Tory hopeful except Sam Gyimah is proposing either to push through a Brexit deal or crash out of the EU with no deal at all. The government’s own sums, as well as independent analysis, make clear that any form of Brexit will leave the UK poorer in the future than it would have been if we stayed in the EU. Our economy is projected to be potentially £100 billion smaller by 2030 if we get a deal like Theresa May’s agreement and around £230 billion smaller in a “no deal” scenario.

So all these promises about fixing the country’s real problems will be broken.

Schools

Michael Gove has pledged an extra £1 billion per year for schools, Matt Hancock an extra £3 billion and Esther McVey £4 billion. Boris Johnson wants to ensure £5,000 is spent on each pupil in the country, which sounds good but actually amounts to a 0.1% boost or an extra £50 million a year, according to Schools Week.

Police

Home secretary Sajid Javid wants to get 20,000 more bobbies on the beat, at a cost of £3 billion over three years. McVey has also pledged £3 billion to reverse police spending cuts. Johnson also wants “more police out there”.

Housing

Rory Stewart may be dead against “no deal”, but he still wants to push Brexit through while finding £100 billion to build 2 million new homes over five years. Stewart has criticised his rivals for making “unfunded promises” which are “incompatible with the economic fallout” from leaving the EU.

Investing in the UK’s regions

May’s government “lost focus” on tackling the economic divide between the UK’s regions, Javid told the Yorkshire Post. He wants to spend £100 billion on transport and infrastructure projects, including a national fibre optic network and overhauling the North’s railway network. Johnson has also pledged to “build the infrastructure” to “unite our society”.

Defence

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to double defence spending from 2% to 4% of GDP if he becomes prime minister – that’s around £75 billion per year based on current spending.

Tax cuts

Dominic Raab wants to cut the basic rate of tax by 5p – from 20p to 15p – which latest estimates suggest would cost £25 billion per year. Javid has suggested cutting the highest 45p income tax rate altogether – which could cost another £1 billion. Johnson, Hunt and McVey have also talked about cutting tax. These contenders all argue tax cuts will pay for themselves by boosting the economy. But the current chancellor, Philip Hammond, has warned their pledges aren’t properly funded and Tories would be better keeping some “headroom” while a no-deal Brexit remains possible – or risk trashing the party’s reputation for fiscal responsibility.

Some candidates have attempted to balance their expensive policies: Hancock and Hunt want to stop paying down the deficit; McVey wants to halve the overseas aid budget. But because they haven’t factored in the economic hit from Brexit, these wannabe PMs will see their newly grabbed funds disappearing into a Brexit blackhole.

The Brexit saga is littered with broken promises. It’s shameful that so many of the candidates to be the next Tory leader are adding to the dishonesty.

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Edited by Hugo Dixon

3 Responses to “Tory rivals dishonest to pretend they can spend billions”

  • Who are you talking to? It is the same as saying to a Madonna fan, that she had a great performance on the Eurovision songcontest.
    The plans of Boris Johnson are not so bad afterall. Spending 50 billion on education. Hopefully on arithmetic.
    But now the US is coming to help (What took them so long) with a great bargain deal, sorry trade deal, do not despair.

  • I think you let them off lightly by speaking of them as dishonest. They will not let anything be known if it might interfere with their personal advancement.

  • What these Tory candidates fail to tell us is that all this unicorn money is needed to repair some of the huge damage done to the country since 2010 by the drastic austerity measures of Cameron, Osborne, May and Hammond. They caused the damage so stop pretending they are Saints rescuing the country from someone else’s mess. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.
    Let’s take one example in detail- Gove’s promise of £1bn for schools. When Gove became Sec of State for Education in 2010 he IMMEDIATELY scrapped School Sports Partnerships which we’re doing a fantastic job and costing a measly £153 million per year- it was money well spent. He callously scrapped it because it was an example of a successful Labour policy. Then he scrapped the Building Schools for the Future programme. This was designed to replace school buildings which were falling apart. Some inner city schools which were about to benefit had the work summarily stopped on the orders of this little man who thinks he is the answer to all our problems. He told teachers to get on with teaching clause analysis to their 8 year olds even though the roof leaked and the heating kept breaking down. It did not matter if our schools were like slums, just get on with it.
    I truly detest this hypocrite. He did so much damage to our schools with his austerity cuts. How dare he now claim to be a knight riding to rescue the country. He was one of the prime causes of the damage. Words defy me and my anger does not recede