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McDonnell: Britain needs a chancellor, not a conjurer

BRITAIN “needs a chancellor, not a conjurer,” John McDonnell said yesterday, as he accused Philip Hammond of “old-fashioned spin” over Brexit.

In a speech to the International Monetary Fund in Bali, Mr Hammond boasted that the government is on track to achieve a Brexit that can solidly deliver on frictionless trade with the European Union and will allow the Treasury a double bonus in the Budget.

The Chancellor claimed the bonus would allow the government to both boost public spending and cut taxes.

He added that the £15.3 billion that the government has saved in the past financial year as a fiscal buffer against a no-deal Brexit may be freed up for use if an open trade agreement with Brussels emerges.

However, Mr Hammond’s policy was branded a “fudge” by his Labour opposite number.

“This all smacks of good old-fashioned spin,” Mr McDonnell said.

“It looks like Hammond is desperate to save his and the Prime Minister’s skins by dressing up a classic ‘put it off’ fudge as a deal, which will fail to provide the long-term security and certainty investors and businesses need.”

He also accused Mr Hammond of planning a few “tax conjuring tricks” to “kid people that austerity is over, when the reality is that the vast bulk of the cuts are still rolling out,” adding: “We need a chancellor, not a conjurer.”

Mr Hammond is due to present a crunch Budget — the last one due before Britain leaves the EU next March — at the end of this month.

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