Budget 2018: Jeremy Corbyn accuses government of 'broken promise budget' as he dismisses claim austerity is over

Labour leader says investment announced by Philip Hammond is 'half measures and quick fixes'

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Monday 29 October 2018 18:52
Jeremy Corbyn calls 2018 budget 'broken promise budget'

Jeremy Corbyn has accused Philip Hammond of delivering a "broken promise budget" and dismissed ministers' claims that austerity is over.

The Labour leader said billions of pounds of new government spending amounted to "half measures and quick fixes while austerity grinds on".

He was responding to a Budget in which Mr Hammond brought forward an income tax for 32 million workers, announced a new tech tax on global giants such as Google and Facebook, and promised increased investment in mental health services, roads, the armed forces and the roll-out of universal credit.

The chancellor vowed that, during the next spending period, Whitehall budgets will increase by an average of 1.2 per cent per year as he promised austerity is "coming to an end".

But, responding, Mr Corbyn said: "The reality is that whatever the chancellor claims today, austerity is not over.''

He added: "What we've heard today are half measures and quick fixes while austerity grinds on.

"And far from people's hard work and sacrifices having paid off, as the chancellor claims, this government has frittered it away in ideological tax cuts to the richest in our society."

Pointing out that the Conservatives had previously promised to get rid of the UK's budget deficit by 2015, he said: "Today the chancellor has confirmed it will still be there nine years later, in 2024."

He also hit back at ministers' criticism of Labour's economic record, saying: "For too long the party opposite peddled the myth that the last Labour government crashed the economy by overspending on public services, as if investing to bring health spending up to European levels had caused the global financial crash."

As a result of austerity, he said, life expectancy in the UK is stalling "for the first time in modern history" while in poorer areas life expectancy has fallen and child mortality increased.

Turning to Brexit, Mr Corbyn said the £500m in extra funding announced by Mr Hammond for preparing for Britain's departure from the EU was a sign of "panic not planning".

He claimed the lack of an agreement with the EU was because Tory ministers "cannot agree a deal amongst themselves" and accused the government of pursuing the "fantasy" of a Singapore-style "race to the bottom on rights and protections".

Welcoming new investment in educational programmes to teach people about the Holocaust, Mr Corbyn condemned the "horrific and vile antisemitic and racist attack" on a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, which killed 11 people dead.

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