08 July 2024

Treasury minister on Labour’s ‘no money’ note: ‘Tories can’t afford notepaper’

08 July 2024

Treasury minister Darren Jones has referred to the infamous “no money” note left by the last Labour government, joking that the Conservatives “can’t afford the notepaper”.

Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands, who lost his Chelsea and Fulham seat to Labour last week, built a reputation for sharing pictures of the note left by Labour minister Liam Byrne to his incoming Tory counterpart in 2010.

In the note left on his desk, Mr Byrne wrote: “Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid there is no money. Kind regards – and good luck! Liam”, which was used by subsequent Conservative administrations to suggest Labour could not be trusted with public finances.

Ahead of a speech by Chancellor Rachel Reeves, newly appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury Mr Jones referred to the note, saying: “Well, there was no note in my drawer at all, so maybe they can’t afford the notepaper to write a note on… who knows?”

Mr Jones went on to say that stimulating “strength and growth” in the economy is Labour’s “first and most important mission”.

He told Sky News: “This isn’t just one speech on day one of the Labour Government, this is our first and most important mission, it underpins all of our delivery priorities.

“And there’s going to be a consistent drive right from those of us in the centre of Government all the way through the country, in what we hope is now a national mission, to be able to find great jobs, get to work, improve pay, make profits, invest and build across the country, and get the UK back to where it needs to be.”

When pressed about raising taxes not specifically mentioned in the party’s manifesto, Mr Jones said: “We were very clear that the burden of tax on the British people is too high and we want that to come down.

“But of course the route to sustainable public finances is to get growth back into the economy, which is why the Chancellor’s first intervention today isn’t to say ‘Look, how awful is everything and what a mess the Conservatives left’, even though they did leave a historic mess.”

We can’t keep dipping into recession and bumping along the bottom

Mr Jones also denied that Labour has a “secret tax plan”, and said Ms Reeves’ economic interventions will be “radical” and “immediate”.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We can’t keep dipping into recession and bumping along the bottom, which is what you’re going to hear from the Chancellor today. It’s a pretty radical, strong, immediate intervention to kick-start growth in the economy, as well as recognising that it will take some time for that to come through the system.”

On Labour not ruling out raising tax beyond VAT, national insurance and income tax, Mr Jones said: “There is not a secret tax plan. This was an attack from the Conservatives. It is not a reflection of reality.

New Chief Secretary to the Treasury Minister Darren Jones has referred to the infamous ‘no money’ note left by the last Labour Government, joking that the Tories ‘can’t afford the notepaper’ (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)

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