President Biden labels UK PM’s tax cuts a ‘mistake’ in rare criticism

AP
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The US president said he disagreed with Liz Truss’ now-abandoned plan to fight inflation with tax cuts. The embattled UK leader is now scrambling to present a new budget with the help of her new finance minister.

UK Prime Minister began crisis talks with her new Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt on Sunday, two days after firing her previous finance minister in what has been seen as a humiliating U-turn, just weeks into her premiership.

The pressure was cranked up on Saturday evening when US President Joe Biden made a rare criticism of British government policy, calling the tax cut plan a “mistake.”

“I wasn’t the only one that thought it was a mistake,” Biden told reporters while visiting an Oregon ice cream shop. “I disagree with the policy, but that’s up to Great Britain.”

The White House had previously refused to comment on the “mini-budget” announced by fired former Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng that panicked markets and sent the pound plummeting.

‘Difficult’ time ahead in the UK

The Truss and Kwarteng envisaged plan would have seen £45 billion ($50 billion, €51.7 billion) in tax cuts, with the government forced to borrow to make up the difference.

On Sunday, Truss met with Hunt — a centrist stalwart of the Conservative party — at the prime minister’s country retreat in order to come up with a new budget that would be announced at the end of the month.

“It’s going to be very, very difficult, and I think we have to be honest with people about that,” Hunt told the BBC ahead of the meeting.

Truss has been “willing to do that most difficult of things in politics, and that is to change tack,” Hunt said, adding, “The prime minister’s in charge.”

UK prime minister sacks finance chief

However, the Sunday Times and Sunday Express newspapers reported that up to 100 Conservative lawmakers had already handed in letters of no confidence in Truss.

‘Libertarian jihadists’

The party is split between its moderate wing and more radical right wing, of which Truss is a part.

“I worry that over the past few weeks, the government has looked like libertarian jihadists and treated the whole country as kind of laboratory mice in which to carry out ultra, ultra free-market experiments,” Conservative lawmaker Robert Halfon told Sky News.

The sentiment appears to be somewhat shared with Joe Biden, a Democrat, who has opposed trickle-down economic policies that were most prominently associated with former Republican President Ronald Reagan.

Source : Deutsche Welle