Tory and Labour representatives spar over “reckless” spending plans

By Anna Cooban
November 29 2019, 21.55

Party representatives attacked their rivals’ spending plans during the BBC Election debate this evening.

Rishi Sunak, the chief secretary to the Treasury, labelled Labour’s proposed tax increases as ‘reckless’.

Representatives were responding to an audience question on how they could guarantee the delivery of their spending plans.

Mr Sunak said: “They would wreck the economy, the debt would be higher and, unlike our plans to cut taxes for the lowest paid, we now know that labour would raise taxes on millions of ordinary working families up and down this country.”

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, representing Labour, defended the credibility of her party’s manifesto, hailing it as ‘radical and transformative’.

“We’ve outlined the most detailed manifesto of all the parties with a grey book sitting alongside it detailing our costs, our tax receipts and how we’ll fund those proposals going forward,” she said.

“We go into extreme detail. We’ve set out a green industrial revolution, a green transformation fund of £250 billion pounds, a social transformation fund to invest in our public realm.”

She claimed that Labour has been subjected to a ‘fabricated lie’ by the Tory party over the past few weeks, pushing the myth that their plans will amount to £1.2 trillion.

“I haven’t seen any costings from your party whatsoever,” she challenged.

Mr Sunak defended his position, saying the Institute for Fiscal Studies, an influential think tank, had this week described Labour’s manifesto as ‘simply not credible’.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – by far the most experienced debater on stage – promptly intervened to clarify the IFS had deemed both the Tory and Labour spending plans to be unrealistic.

“The IFS said that neither Labour or the Tories spending plans were credible,” she corrected.

When questioned about the Liberal Democrats’ ability to fund their promises, party leader Jo Swinson turned the focus to Brexit.

She said: “If we leave the EU we will be poorer. There will be less money”.

The four were joined in the seven party debate by Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, former Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas and Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice.

But events at London Bridge, where two people died earlier today in a terror attack, meant this was a subdued debate, with moderator Nick Robinson only occasionally intervening when things got heated.

Mr Sunak said it was the first duty of every government to keep the public safe but his Labour counterpart hit back at police cuts, claiming the Conservatives had slashed 20,000 off police personnel numbers.

“It is right to recognise the direct impact of those cuts and invest more in community policing – the eyes and ears of our communities,” she said.

The Brexit Party’s Mr Tice – who struggled to get his voice heard at several points during the debate – added to the calls for more police but said ‘people must remain vigilant’ in light of attacks.

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