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UK economy

Has Jeremy Hunt got it right?

Or is it thumbs down? Ian Forsyth/Getty

Yes. He set himself three goals, says Dan Hodges in The Mail on Sunday: restoring the government’s “battered credibility” with the financial markets; protecting the most vulnerable and the public services they rely on; and bearing down on the “mammoth borrowing” that carried Britain through the Covid crisis. He delivered. It won’t win the Tories the next election. “But he was right.”

No. Hunt’s Autumn Statement was based on a “false premise”, says Liam Halligan in The Sunday Telegraph: that Britain is on the brink of going broke. It’s not. Our national debt stands at 97% of GDP; France, Canada and the US are at 115%, 116% and 132% respectively. Across the G7 countries, only Germany has less public debt than Britain. And is it sensible to raise the tax burden during a cost-of-living crisis? No other major economy is. How on earth will doing so encourage “cash-strapped households to spend and get the economy moving”?

Haven’t a clue. Apparently, Britain’s debt is £2.36trn, says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sunday Times. Sounds “an enormous amount… If I owed that much, I certainly wouldn’t be able to sleep very well.” Nor is it just us. Around the world, nation states supposedly owe some £300trn. That’s three hundred million million pounds. “But to whom exactly do we owe it? A bank? A building society? A man in Switzerland…? Admit it: you don’t know. I definitely don’t know.”