Away from the disaster in Ukraine, Rishi Sunak has today promised to cut taxes at some nebulous point in the future – just not now. Delivering the annual Mais lecture, Rishi ruled out the “false idea” that high government spending leads to growth, or that tax cuts can pay for themselves. Ignoring the possibility that with the tax burden at a 70-year high we might just be in the wrong place on the Laffer curve.
“I am going to deliver a lower tax economy but I am going to do so in a responsible way, and in a way that tackles our long-term challenges […] I am disheartened when I hear the flippant claim that ‘tax cuts always pay for themselves’. They do not. Cutting tax sustainably requires hard work, prioritisation and the willingness to make difficult and often unpopular arguments elsewhere.”
“Difficult and unpopular arguments” is a pretty obvious hint from Number 11 to Number 10: I can’t cut taxes unless we cut spending. Rishi’s position is, to paraphrase Saint Augustine, “Lord, let me cut taxes – just not yet.”