Jeremy Hunt has dismissed predictions that Brexit will hit the UK economy and that Liz Truss’ mini-budget has caused long-term damage.
The Chancellor also denied that his autumn statement was an over-correction that would cost the Tories the next election.
Speaking to Sky’s Beth Rigby Interviews, Mr Hunt repeatedly said he had not ‘accepted’ the Office for Budget Responsibility’s prediction that Brexit would lead to a 4% drop in GDP in the long term.
“I don’t accept the 4%,” he said, arguing that the fiscal watchdog’s forecast was based on a scenario in which no other changes were made that could affect the size of the economy.
He claimed that with the decisions taken in the budget last week, “the recession, the impact on GDP is much less than it would have been. And on the other hand there is a lot of growth.”
“My statement on Thursday showed how we will forge a different economy outside the European Union, with high skills, high wages, the world’s next Silicon Valley and with our own regulations.”
When asked if he only accepts numbers he likes, he said: “I accept the ones I agree with and I don’t accept the ones I disagree with.
“I don’t agree with that because it means that without other changes, that could be the impact.”
Mr Hunt expressed regret at the disastrous tax-cut bonanza of his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng and former Prime Minister Ms Truss, but denied it had hurt the economy in the long term.
“I accept that we have had a difficult time over the past few months.
“I wish we hadn’t experienced what happened with the mini-budget and all the turmoil that happened there.”
But the Chancellor said he did not “acknowledge” an estimate by the Resolution Foundation think-tank that Ms Truss’ mistakes may have cost the country as much as £30billion.
“Tax measures in the mini-budget have largely been reversed, so I don’t accept that analysis,” he said.
“I don’t think there was a long-term effect because the measures taken were reversed so quickly.”
Mr Hunt refused to apologize for the financial mess, saying “actions speak louder than words”.
“I think we showed that we think what happened was wrong. We corrected it and we put the country back on track,” he said.
Mr Hunt unveiled £25 billion in tax increases in his autumn budget, prompting concern from some Tory backbenchers and accusations that it was an over-correction of Ms Truss’ tax cut plans.
When criticized that the budget was bad for the political fortunes of the party, he said: “No, because I actually think that people end up voting conservative because they trust us that the economy makes difficult decisions. We did.
“I think what people want from a conservative government is a team of people who make the tough decisions, regardless of whether it’s good for their political destiny, because it’s right for the country.”