IT is certainly a welcome change to hear the Chancellor bullishly talking up Britain’s prospects. Few are currently brave enough to do that.
Jeremy Hunt even said that those despairing of our future, or even our present, are plain wrong. Our growth, he insists, is no worse than Germany’s and better than in France.
This was a far chirpier Hunt than the funereal individual parachuted into the Treasury last year to calm the markets.
Back then he delivered grim sermons about the impact of Covid, war and, yes, the mini-Budget under Liz Truss.
But he and Rishi Sunak HAVE steadied the ship — even if we are still borrowing vast sums to stay afloat.
And it was refreshing to hear his optimism about a new UK “Silicon Valley” of tech startups and entrepreneurship.
Our Brexit freedoms, he said, are key to turbo-charging flagging productivity and growth . . . quite the admission from a former Remain campaigner.
His ambition for “the most competitive tax regime of any major country” was music to our ears too.
But, Mr Hunt, when will that happen?
We agree that slashing inflation must trump immediate tax cuts.
But what we see is the tax burden at a 70-year high — and the Chancellor himself hiking corporation tax six per cent in April. How is that attractive to the firms he wants?
Factor in our inability to build enough affordable homes for workers and Mr Hunt’s Silicon Valley looks way off.
Likewise his drive to lure comfortable early-retirees back to work will remain a pipe dream without some concrete incentive such as pension tax breaks.
And, frankly, all talk of a golden future rings hollow with prices still soaring, pay lagging and the NHS in chaos.
Voters want immediate action on those, plus major tax cuts in due course and real growth to make us all better off.
The Tories may have little time to achieve any of it.
WE don’t agree with Mr Hunt that it’s a “national embarrassment” Japan opened its first high-speed rail line some 70 years before we ever will.
What IS is that HS2 was always a dubious idea, may never now do what it set out to and may have tripled in cost.
What will be an embarrassment is if it proves as pointless, archaic and underused as we suspect.
And the nation regrets the mind-blowing price tag wasn’t spent more wisely.
Had our fill
AS diesel fell 32p a litre on the wholesale market, the pump price dropped only 20p.
Clinching proof that drivers are routinely ripped off.
That Pumpwatch monitor cannot come soon enough.
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