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Boris Johnson has been criticised by a veteran Tory MP for trying to emulate “high spending leftie” Franklin D Roosevelt (FDR) rather than “good conservatives” like Margaret Thatcher.
The prime minister last week launched the government’s plan to help the economy recover from coronavirus by outlining £5bn of infrastructure spending.
In pre-briefed lines, Johnson described his plan as a “Rooseveltian” new deal, a reference to the massive spending plan the former US president used to help America recover from the Great Depression in the 1930s.
But the government’s outlay of hundreds of billions of pounds during the Covid-19 crisis has worried traditional Tory MPs, including Sir Edward Leigh, who said he was still waiting for tax cuts first floated by George Osborne before he became chancellor in 2010.
After becoming PM last year, Johnson ditched a Tory leadership race promise for a £9bn income tax cut for middle class higher earners to the dismay of some of his own MPs.
As chancellor Rishi Sunak prepares to deliver his summer economic update on Wednesday, which is expected to outline further spending, Leigh fired a warning shot from the backbenches.
At Treasury questions, he said: “When are we going to fulfil numerous promises made as long ago by George Osborne before the 2010 election to help middle class people pass on more of their profit to the young?
“After all that’s a priority, for the young.
“And while we’re about it can we hear from the chancellor and from the prime minister less about high spending lefties like president Roosevelt and more from good conservatives like Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher?
“Less about subsidies and more about tax cuts and tax simplification.”
Treasury minister Jesse Norman replied: “I’d hate to give you a history lesson but you will recall that Ronald Reagan was a deep admirer of FDR and was a heavy spender in his own right.
“Inheritance tax is paid on only one in 25 estates and therefore it isn’t quite as large an issue in terms of the number of people affected by it as you suggested
“But we do take these issues very seriously and return to them recurrently at fiscal events.”