Drakeford accuses Sunak of trying to improve his own chances of becoming PM rather than helping people
The First Minister has accused the Chancellor of focusing on improving his own chances of becoming Prime Minister rather than using his Spring Statement to help people with the cost of living crisis.
Mark Drakeford said that Rishi Sunak was attempting to “improve his chances in the leadership election” with an “election gimmick” rather than helping the public pay their bills.
The Chancellor’s Spring Statement was widely panned in the press, including by the Conservative-supporting Telegraph newspaper whose columnist Allister Heath accused him of treating voters “like fools”.
Asked by Plaid Cymru Senedd Member Delyth Jewell “what justification has the Treasury provided to Welsh Ministers for failing to do more to help people on low incomes in Wales,” Mark Drakeford took the opportunity to lay into Rishi Sunak.
“What I think the response tells you, Llywydd, is that it’s the Conservative party that will never work for Wales,” Mark Drakeford said at First Minister’s Questions.
“Because here is a Conservative Chancellor who went about the spring statement on the basis of trying to burnish his own credentials as a tax-cutting Chancellor in order to improve his chances in the leadership election that he expects to fight any time soon.
“So, the Chancellor’s eyes were not focused on helping the 5.5 million people who are economically inactive in this country, or the 11 million pensioners who find themselves significantly worse off as a result of breaking his own promise to up pensions in line with the triple lock.
“Twenty-seven million people out of 31 million people will still be paying more tax after the Chancellor’s election gimmick of a 1p cut in income tax in 2024, and that just tells you where the Chancellor and the Conservative party’s interests lie.”
Yesterday, Rishi Sunak told the Treasury Select Committee that he would offer people more support with their energy bills only “if necessary” and highlighted the “volatility” of energy prices.
“None of us know what the price cap is going to be in the autumn. That is incredibly volatile,” he said.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and, as we know more, are prepared to act if necessary.
“It is very difficult to sit here today and speculate on what happens to energy prices, the biggest impact on living standards, in the autumn.”
It would have been “irresponsible” to raise benefits in line with inflation, he said, adding that doing so would increase government borrowing by £25 billion.
He also added that Brexit was a “big part” of the reason that UK exports had not recovered to the same level as those of other countries.
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