Nick Robinson Tells Minister Greg Hands: 'You Are Insulting People's Intelligence.'

The former Rishi Sunak supporter had criticised Liz Truss's economic plans during the Tory leadership contest.
Nick Robinson clashed with Greg Hands on the Today programme.
Nick Robinson clashed with Greg Hands on the Today programme.
PA Images

BBC radio presenter Nick Robinson accused a government minister of “insulting people’s intelligence” after he defended Liz Truss’s economic policies.

International trade minister Greg Hands was highly critical of the prime minister during the Tory leadership contest, in which he backed her rival, Rishi Sunak.

In one tweet, he said ending Sunak’s rule of not borrowing to pay for day-to-day government spending would be “recklessly irresponsible”.

He added: “It’s not just wrong, it’s dangerous. As Rishi says, even Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell didn’t go that far.”

Since then, Truss and her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, have come under fire for backing £45 billion of unfunded spending cuts in last month’s disastrous mini-budget.

After reading out the tweet while interviewing the minister on Radio Four’s Today programme, Robinson said: “Is that the same Greg Hands who was tweeting then who is now speaking to me on the radio?”

The minister replied: “Well look, the debate over the summer was about a set of proposals, policies, which aren’t the same as the ones announced by the chancellor of the exchequer just a couple of weeks ago.”

As Robinson asked him “what’s changed”, Hands said: “What’s changed, for example, has been the action on energy bills, which is the centrepiece of what the government is doing.”

Robinson replied: “Forgive me, that’s got nothing to do with what you were saying then. You said that borrowing for day-to-day spending - on tax cuts, for example - would be recklessly irresponsible.”

The veteran presenter then read out another Hands tweet which said: “Borrowing and spending is not the Conservative way.”

He added: “When you tweeted ‘Rishi speaks out against fairytale economics’, whose economics was he describing as fairytale and what were the plans that he thought were fairytale?”

As Hands struggled to answer, Robinson said: “Will you forgive me for suggesting you are insulting people’s intelligence? You’re now defending a series of policies you condemned as ‘fairytales’.

The interview came as Kwarteng cut short a visit to Washington ahead of an expected U-turn on his plans to freeze corporation tax.

Despite the chaos sparked by his mini-budget, Hands also insisted that the chancellor was a man of “good judgment”.


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