Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delays crunch budget plan


Following a meeting of his new Cabinet, Mr. Sunak engaged in his first parliamentary joust with Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer, who is demanding a snap general election

Following a meeting of his new Cabinet, Mr. Sunak engaged in his first parliamentary joust with Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer, who is demanding a snap general election

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday postponed an eagerly awaited Budget plan due next week, as the youthful new leader got down to business after weeks of political turmoil.

Following a meeting of his new Cabinet, Mr Sunak engaged in his first parliamentary joust with Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer, who is demanding a snap general election.

Mr. Sunak, 42, ruled out an early election — not due for at least two years — as he vowed stability and fiscal rectitude following his appointment by King Charles III on Tuesday.

He succeeds Liz Truss, who served just 49 days in Downing Street.

“We will have to take difficult decisions to restore economic stability and confidence,” Mr. Sunak told MPs at his first “Prime Minister’s Questions”.

He added that his Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt would set out a detailed plan “in just a few weeks”.

“What I can say, as we did during COVID-19, we will always protect the most vulnerable, we will do this in a fair way,” Mr. Sunak insisted.

Mr. Starmer repeated his demand for an election, accusing Mr. Sunak of lacking legitimacy after being “trounced” by Ms. Truss in the summer’s Conservative leadership run-off.

“So why doesn’t he put it to the test, let working people have their say and call a general election?” Mr. Starmer asked, to cheers from the Opposition benches.

Finance Minister Mr. Hunt — retained in Mr. Sunak’s Cabinet along with several other senior ministers — said that Monday’s planned “medium-term fiscal statement” was no longer so pressing.

Instead, there will be a full Budget statement on November 17 to lay out the new government’s tax and spending plans, Mr. Hunt told reporters.

“Now, we have a new Prime Minister and the prospect of much longer-term stability for the economy,” he said, stressing the new plan would be accompanied by fresh economic forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

Mr. Hunt said he had discussed the delay with Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey. The central bank was forced to make several emergency interventions in recent weeks after Ms. Truss’s now aborted tax-slashing plans financed by extra borrowing sent markets into a tailspin.

The delay would ensure the Budget can “stand the test of time” to give British mortgage holders and businesses more assurance, Ms. Hunt said, after the Mr. Truss plan provoked a damaging spike in borrowing costs and torpedoed her premiership.

Markets were unperturbed by the postponement, suggesting Mr. Hunt and Mr. Sunak have successfully calmed investor nerves.

Ms. Truss left office as the U.K.’s shortest-serving premier in history, replaced by its youngest since 1812 and first Hindu leader.

Mr. Sunak triumphed in a 96-hour Tory leadership contest after rival contender Penny Mordaunt failed to secure enough nominations from Tory lawmakers and Mr. Johnson dramatically aborted his own bid.

After appointing his top team Tuesday, Mr. Sunak spoke to the presidents of Ukraine and the United States to vow continuity on U.K. foreign policy, including ongoing support for Kyiv’s resistance following Russia’s invasion.



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