07 March 2024

Jeremy Hunt’s pre-election Budget labelled both ‘solid’ and ‘mad’

07 March 2024

There were mixed reactions in Thursday’s newspapers after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt revealed his Budget with reactions ranging from “solid” to “mad”.

Mr Hunt left the door open for more pre-election giveaways after delivering another 2p cut in national insurance in the Budget.

The Chancellor spent around £10 billion on cutting national insurance but speaking after his announcement, suggested more could be on the way.

The Guardian said the Government chose to “nullify” the arguments of backbench critics instead of making good on Mr Sunak’s 2022 pledge for “crowd-pleasing” tax cuts.

“Insanity is said to be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If that is the case, then Jeremy Hunt resorting to arguments that an economy can cut its way to growth may well be judged to be mad,” the paper said.

It said Sir Keir Starmer and Labour must come up with something “substantial” to replace an ending era in British politics.

The Times praised the Chancellor’s “bold” Budget, saying the tax cuts will help embattled families and businesses.

The paper said it may be too late for the party though with the Budget leaving “hard choices” awaiting the next Chancellor.

It wrote: “Given Labour’s lead in the polls, Mr Hunt, a decent and competent politician, may at least comfort himself with the thought that he will probably not be around in Number 11 to make them.”

The Daily Telegraph said the Budget has drawn the battle lines for the general election with it to be fought on tax and spending once again.

It said the Budget is “unashamedly political” and had a purpose to point out that “Labour always puts up taxes”.

“This presents a quandary for Sir Keir, who to avoid accusations of profligacy, has accepted Government spending plans even though they will mean deep cuts across Whitehall and to local authorities,” the paper wrote.

The Daily Mail labelled the Budget as “solid” but asked whether it is enough to turn the “Tory fortune” around, adding that it lacked the “pyrotechnics” to force an early election.

“This was a good Budget, but by no means a sure-fire election winner, given the current state of the parties,” the paper said.

The Sun follows the same sentiment, labelling the Budget “solid and thoughtful” but asks whether it is too little too late.

“The Chancellor deserves praise for his National Insurance cut, saving millions of workers hundreds of pounds a year.”

“The Tories remain 20 points adrift in the polls and if their MPs were hoping for a dramatic Nigel Lawson-style game-changer it didn’t materialise.”

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror said Mr Hunt’s “bribe” has failed the nation, as it lamented a “hollow Budget from a Government in its death throes”.

“The Budget will not save the Conservatives from electoral defeat but will only remind voters why they have to go,” the paper said.

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