BBC Presenter Clashes With Jeremy Hunt In Spiky Interview Over Chancellor's Grasp On Job

Charlie Stayt said it was "fascinating" the chancellor "would not know the effect that your Budget has."
Charlie Stayt skewered Jeremy Hunt over the Budget
Charlie Stayt skewered Jeremy Hunt over the Budget
BBC Breakfast

The BBC’s Charlie Stayt cornered Jeremy Hunt over the impact his Budget will have on people on low incomes during a tense exchange on Thursday.

While unveiling the largest fiscal event of the year, Hunt said he was cutting taxes by reducing the National Insurance contributions.

But, as the presenter pointed out, fiscal drag - where workers are pulled into higher tax bands when their wages go up - means the totalamount people are paying is still higher than before.

Stayt said: “How would you explain to someone currently earning £15,000 a year that because of what you decided in your Budget, they will be £400 worse off?”

Hunt started to describe “lots of cost of living support” the government has unveiled, but Stayt cut him off.

He said: “No, my question is a more straightforward one – how can that be fair?

“I notice you’re not quibbling with the figures there. Is it true, that for people on £15,000, because of your decisions yesterday, will be £400 worse off?”

Hunt claimed Stayt was taking “one figure in isolation”.

“We’ve done a lot of things to make sure we’re supporting people on low incomes, and I will continue to do so,” the chancellor said.

The presenter said he’d be “fascinated” to see Hunt explain that to someone on £15,000 a year, adding: “The one thing you don’t seem to actually be able to say is, ‘that’s true’.”

“I don’t know if that figure is true or not – it actually doesn’t sound right to me at all, but what I will say is I’m very happy to talk to anyone on low income,” the chancellor replied, adding that he had prioritised people on low income.

Stayt cut in again: “Mr Hunt, if I may interrupt you, if I may, it seems fascinating to me that given all of the machinations and computations that you do around the Budget, that you as chancellor would not know if someone on a very modest wage, like £15,000 a year, and is probably really struggling, that you would not know the effect that your Budget has on that person.”

Hunt hit back, saying that he disputes his Budget would have such an impact.

Hunt then got pretty prickly when Stayt continued to query him about the details in his Budget, saying: “It’s early in the morning! I’m trying my hardest, but it’s early in the morning!”

Stayt made the same point about Hunt’s awareness when it came to government finances by pointing out how the taxpayer just had to fork out to cover the damages incurred by a cabinet minister’s recent legal case.

Michelle Donelan wrongly accused an academic of supporting Hamas, and so the government had to fork out £15,000 in the settlement – although without an admission of liability.

“As chancellor, you sign off all things that paid by the government,” the BBC presenter said. “Did you approve that?”

Hunt replied the chancellor only signs off on “much larger sums of money”, and said this was normal for government lawyers to back ministers.

Stayt said: “To be fair, you’re the chancellor. I appreciate there are responsibilities here – I’m asking you, as a grown up, as a chancellor, who often handles difficult questions like this, what you think.”

Hunt said: “Yes – and I’m telling you the way government works is that politicians don’t make decisions as to whether legal fees in these decisions as to whether legal fees in this situation should be paid by the taxpayer or the individuals.”


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