Jeremy Hunt suggests UK could copy Trump's tax cuts and praises US president's economic record

Foreign secretary says he will 'look at' big business cuts that he claims have delivered economic growth at twice the rate of the UK's

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Monday 03 June 2019 08:51 BST
Foreign secretary pleads with broadcasters to stop mispronouncing his name
Foreign secretary pleads with broadcasters to stop mispronouncing his name (EPA)

Jeremy Hunt has praised Donald Trump's economic record and suggested he could introduce similar tax cuts for business if he becomes prime minister.

The foreign secretary, who is one of 12 candidates standing to succeed Theresa May, said the US president had delivered "double the GDP growth that we have" and said we would want to "look at" the Republican's policy of "big business cuts in tax".

Mr Trump arrived in the UK on Monday morning for a three-day state visit and was greeted at Stansted Airport by Mr Hunt and other dignitaries.

The foreign secretary had earlier praised the US president and insisted that people were wrong to oppose his visit to the UK.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "America under President Trump has got double the GDP growth that we have and he's done that through some big business cuts in tax, and we could look at that."

The prospect of a post-Brexit trade deal is likely to be one of the main issues during discussions between Mr Trump and UK government ministers during the visit.

Describing the prospect of a deal with the US as "a very, very big opportunity for us", Mr Hunt said: "President Trump is a champion of the view that there are great opportunities for Britain post-Brexit."

However, he ruled out including the NHS in a possible trade deal, despite Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, having suggested that US access to the health service should be "on the table" during negotiations.

Echoing comments made by Matt Hancock, the health secretary, Mr Hunt said: "I can't conceive of any future prime minister for any party ever agreeing that we would allow NHS procurement to be part of trade talks, because the NHS as a publicly run, publicly owned institution is part of our DNA."

Mr Hunt said that, as prime minister, he would be willing to opt for a no-deal Brexit if he cannot secure a better exit deal.

He faced criticism from some Tory MPs last week after appearing to shift his stance on a no-deal outcome, warning that it would be "political suicide". He had previously claimed Britain would "flourish and prosper" if it left the EU without a deal.

Speaking to Today, he insisted Today: "My position on this hasn't changed at all. I've always said that in the end, if the only way to leave the European Union, to deliver on the result of the referendum, was to leave without a deal, then I would do that but I would so so very much as a last resort, with a heavy heart, because of the risks to businesses and the risks to the union.

"I would be prepared to do in extremis but I wouldn't do it if there was a prospect of a better deal and I think there is a prospect of a better deal and I think it's possible to get one before 31 October, although I don't pretend it's going to be easy."

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