6 October 2020 | UK NEWS
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has spoken of the need to “balance the books in the medium term”, despite the increase in government spending due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking during the annual Conservative Party Conference, currently taking place virtually, Rishi Sunak began by praising Boris Johnson’s Covid strategy, saying: “Yes, it’s been difficult – challenges are part of the job – but on the big calls, in the big moments, Boris Johnson has got it right and we need that leadership.”
He continued: “This Government has never been blind to the difficult trade-offs and decisions coronavirus has forced upon us. If we had, we never would have deployed one of the most comprehensive and generous packages of support in the world.”
The Chancellor’s speech comes following Johnson’s appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, where the Prime Minister claimed that Sunak’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme may have caused an uptick in coronavirus cases.
He had said: “Insofar as that scheme may have helped to spread the virus, then obviously we need to counteract that and we need to counteract that with the discipline and the measures that we’re proposing.”
Sunak then went on to “impress” his commitment to conservative values:
“Conservatives believe in the importance of community and belonging. We believe in personal responsibility and pragmatism. We believe in the nobility of work and free enterprise. And we believe in the unbreakable bond of union that unites the four nations of our United Kingdom. Our values are old and true and have withstood tests of strife, of terror, and even war.
“They are timeless because they are a wisdom earned over generations. And they are universal, because they are rooted in the fundamental belief that individual freedom enables both the greatest achievement and the gentlest kindness.”
He also proclaimed his support for free market economics and the values that underpin it:
“In a free market economy, it is the entrepreneur who is critical. And we will make it easier for those with the ambition and appetite to take risks and be bold, to do what they do best and create jobs and growth. And we will protect the public finances. Over the medium term, getting our borrowing and debt back under control.
“We have a sacred responsibility to future generations to leave the public finances strong, and through careful management of our economy, this Conservative Government will always balance the books.”
He rounded off his speech on a hopeful note:
“The British people and British businesses won’t give up. I know this because of what I said at the beginning. We share the same values – the Conservative Party and the country. And these values are not devoid of meaning to people. They are about protecting that which is meaningful to them.”