Reeves: Chancellor picked the pockets of entire country with autumn statement

The shadow chancellor said Jeremy Hunt had deployed a raft of stealth taxes taking billions of pounds from ordinary working people.

Autumn statement 2022
Autumn statement 2022

Rachel Reeves accused Chancellor Jeremy Hunt of having “picked the pockets” of the entire country by deploying a “raft of stealth taxes” in his autumn statement.

The shadow chancellor said Mr Hunt was attempting to “take the British people for fools” by seeking to claim the Conservatives are not responsible for the “last 12 years of failure”.

Ms Reeves also drew upon US soap opera Dallas and The Police’s 1983 hit Every Breath You Take as she criticised the economic record of the Conservatives since 2010.

Responding to the autumn statement, Ms Reeves told the Commons: “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 erode the real value of people’s wages.

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

Ms Reeves earlier said the country had been given an “invoice for the economic carnage” created by the Government following the mini-budget, which was introduced during Liz Truss’s brief time as prime minister before being scaled back amid economic turmoil.

She also said the Government has forced the UK economy into a “doom loop where low growth leads to higher taxes, lower investments and squeezed wages, with the running down of public services”.

She acknowledged the impact of the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine but said Britain’s problems started before then.

Ms Reeves added the Government has adopted the “Bobby Ewing strategy” by trying to pretend the mini-budget was a “bad dream”.

She said: “The Chancellor and Prime Minister are trying to convince us that Britain faces problems that are nothing to do with them, that the mini-budget – which imposed a Tory mortgage premium, put pensions in peril and trashed our reputation around the world – was all just a bad dream.

“It’s their Bobby Ewing strategy. Downing Street as Dallas. Old cast members return as if nothing has happened, with tangled plotlines to keep the audience.

“But the truth is it has lost all credibility and everyone knows it is long past time that this series was cancelled.

“And the problem for the British people is this: this is not a dream, this is the every day nightmare of Tory Britain.

“The Conservatives would have us believe that they are not responsible for the last 12 years of failure. In doing so they take the British people for fools.”

In a nod to The Police, Ms Reeves also told MPs: “It is a familiar tune – every mortgage they raise, every cut they make, every tax they hike, the Conservatives are costing you.”

Mr Hunt replied by claiming it is “just not credible” to blame the UK’s economic turmoil on the mini-budget.

He said: “Today we have announced tax rises and spending cuts of £55 billion. We can debate the reasons, but to govern is to choose and she didn’t answer the simplest of questions – does she back the need for a package of this size to bring down inflation?

“If Labour can’t answer they are not fit to govern.

“She says it is the Government’s fault, but with a made in Russia recession, a once-in-a-century pandemic, higher inflation in Europe, bigger cuts to growth in Germany, bigger interest rate hikes in America, to blame this on a mini-budget that was cancelled in three weeks is just not credible.”

SNP Treasury spokeswoman Alison Thewliss said: “I want to come to the policy that unites all the unionist parties in this House: Brexit. Tories, Labour, the Lib Dems, all Brexiteers now, truly committed to this futile project of deliberate self-destruction.”

She added: “Scotland did not vote for this. We did not choose austerity and we did not choose Brexit.

“The OBR say that living standards are to fall by 7% over the next two years. It ought to be of no surprise to anybody that just shy of half of Scots think the UK won’t exit in its current form in the next five years.

“This is a UK so weak that no-one would wish to join it. Scotland cannot be forced to stay in broke, broken, Brexit Britain.”

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