Theresa May has dismissed claims that Monday’s Autumn Budget was an attempt to pave the way for an early general election.
Speaking at a press conference in Olso, the Prime Minister said the government “was not preparing for another general election”, telling reporters: “That would not be in the national interest.”
It comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond’s headline-winning budget sparked rumours that the Conservative Party was gearing up for the polls.
As well as confirming the party’s promise to boost NHS spending by £20-billion-a-year, Hammond revealed tax cuts for 32 million workers and £1bn for Universal Credit over the next five years.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that the Tories “usually do this”.
“If a general election is coming, what they’ll do is they’ll splash out some money and then if they win the election they then start cutting it back again.”
But May’s denial was echoed by Hammond, who said he had not tackled the most recent economic forecast with an election in mind.
“I’ve approached this budget in terms of delivering to the British people a clear view of the better times that are ahead as our economy and public finances turn the corner,” he told Sky News.
The Chancellor budget speech signalled a subtle – but significant – shift in the Conservative’s choice of language about austerity.
While May announced at the Tory Party Conference that “austerity is over”, Hammond told a packed House of Commons on Monday: “Austerity is coming to an end”.
But in his response to the budget, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn branded the government’s economic plan a “broken promise budget”.
“What we’ve heard today are half measures and quick fixes while austerity grinds on,” he said.