Conservative Diary

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Ken Clarke warns George Osborne against making "great cuts with calamitous consequences"

Ken Clarke black background Shadow Business Secretary Ken Clarke has been interviewed by today's Sunday Times, with the top line being his warning against “damaging and unsupportable” spending cuts, with hints that VAT might have to be raised in order to help close the budget gap.

The former Chancellor says:

“It’s no good trying to win brownie points by offering great cuts that are going to have calamitous consequences... George [Osborne] and Philip [Hammond] will have co-operative colleagues, but their duty is to make sure we don’t, by mistake, make damaging and unsupportable cuts.” 

He says a Conservative government would want to avoid tax increase, but:

“You can’t rule out any options. If you are looking at tax — which George hopes to avoid — he is bound to look at VAT along with other possible sources of revenue.”

Mr Clarke also responded to Gordon Brown's quoting him at PMQs last week as having voiced opposition to supporting marriage in the tax system:

“All the quotations that people get on me pre-date my return to the front bench. I now accept collective responsibility, which is the only sensible way in a modern democracy like ours. I am still married to my first wife for 40-odd years. So I have nothing against marriage." 

"He [David Cameron] knew perfectly well when I came back to the front bench that I had been in politics for so long now that it is not difficult for keen apparatchiks in the Labour party to go through the files and find some decent quotes.”  

Jonathan Isaby


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