SAJID Javid has warned there will be “no blank cheques” ahead of Brexit as he prepares to make his first spending pledges as Chancellor.
The Tory minister said he will not break “fiscal rules” on public money while promising cash boosts to “priorities” such as schools, hospitals and police.
He has revealed he will give a spending round statement on Wednesday September 4 after cancelling the speech which was due to take place tomorrow.
Writing in the Telegraph, he said: “Thanks to the hard work of the British people over the last decade, we can afford to spend more on the people’s priorities – without breaking the rules around what the Government should spend – and we’ll do that in a few key areas like schools, hospitals and police.
“But at the same time, it’s vital that we continue to live within our means as a country.
“Unlike the Labour Party, we don’t believe in just throwing money at a problem.
“And especially at a time when the global economy is slowing, it’s important that we don’t let our public finances get out of control. “
However the new Chancellor slammed suggestions that the government would abandon fiscal rules with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looming on October 31.
He continued: “So I can confirm that next week’s Spending Round will be delivered within the current fiscal rules.
“As every household knows, that will mean making choices and prioritising where we focus spending, and any departments expecting a blank cheque will be sorely disappointed.”
Speaking about the spending boost for public services, he added: “Health and education aren’t just the names of departments – they’re lifelines of opportunity, just as they were for me.
“The teachers who persuaded me that I had what it takes to study economics and put me on the path to becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer.
“The police officers who kept us safe when the street I grew up on became a centre for drug dealers.
CASH BOOST FOR ‘PRIORITIES’
“The NHS that cared for my dad in his final days. These aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet. They’re the beating heart of our country.”
Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell was critical of Mr Javid’s decision to cancel his original speech at the last minute.
He said it was a sign that “panic” was “setting in inside Government”.
“Sajid Javid is getting a record of announcing events and initiatives and then within hours cancelling or reversing them,” Mr McDonnell said.
“This doesn’t inspire confidence. Panic seems to be setting in inside government.”
The decision to fast-track efforts to draw up public spending and investment plans was announced earlier this month – although the target date was given as just September, rather than “early September”.
Mr Javid asked for a 12-month spending round instead of a longer-term exercise in a bid to “clear the ground ahead of Brexit while delivering on people’s priorities”.
The spending round will cover day-to-day department budgets for 2020/21, rather than a three-year period first mooted by the previous government, as the UK prepares to leave the EU on October 31.
The Chancellor said the review would “give Whitehall departments certainty over their budgets for next year, and will confirm our plans to fund the nation’s priorities”.
What is a No Deal Brexit?
A No Deal departure from the European Union means leaving without formal arrangements for the future relationship or any transition period.
Currently Britain’s trade, customs and immigration rules are tied up with the single market and a host of EU regulatory bodies.
The UK will automatically head towards a No Deal if no agreement is made with the EU on a withdrawal deal by October 31, 2019.
“The next 65 days will see a relentless focus across Whitehall on preparing to leave the EU,” he said.
“As the Prime Minister has said, the best outcome for us would be to leave with a deal – he spent much of last week speaking to his European counterparts to do just that.
“But to get that deal, we need to be prepared to leave with no-deal.
“That’s why after just a few days in the Treasury, I doubled Brexit funding for this year by making an extra £2 billion available for no deal preparations.
“That means we can recruit up to 1,000 more Border Force staff, create extra capacity to avoid delays with passport applications, and improve transport infrastructure around ports like Tilbury and Dover.”
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