Britain’s new Chancellor of the Exchequer warned against tax hikes on Saturday, admitting he had made “mistakes” by his short-lived predecessor in a disastrous budget.
Jeremy Hunt made his first comments to the media after his appointment as finance minister by Prime Minister Liz Truss, whose own future is being questioned just weeks after taking office.
“We will have to make some very difficult decisions,” Hunt told Sky News, warning that “all government departments” will face spending restraint.
“And some taxes won’t be cut as quickly as people want. Some taxes will go up,” he added.
Tax cuts were the focus of the budget announced on September 23 by Hunt’s predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng. But they were financed with billions of additional loans, sparking panic in the financial markets, leading to higher costs for UK households.
Truss fired Kwarteng on Friday and rowed further back on planned tax cuts, but is threatened by senior Conservative MPs who are baffled by the party’s collapse in opinion polls since she replaced Boris Johnson on Sept. 6.
“There were mistakes,” acknowledged Hunt, a former health and foreign secretary who is seen as a centrist Tory brought in by Truss to keep her listed ship stable.
Kwarteng and Truss initially wanted to cut taxes on the highest earners and had presented their budgets without independent forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility, Hunt noted in summarizing two key mistakes.
“The Prime Minister has recognized that, that’s why I’m here.”