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Cuts to government spending are the only way to grow economy, Penny Mordaunt reveals in leaked recording

14 June 2024, 16:26 | Updated: 14 June 2024, 16:31

Penny Mordaunt
Penny Mordaunt. Picture: Alamy
Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

Cutting wasteful government spending is the only way to grow Britain's economy, Penny Mordaunt has said privately.

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In a leaked recording obtained by LBC, the Commons leader and Tory candidate told activists that the state is too big and Government is trying to do too many things.

The top Tory - who many expect to run for leadership if the party loses the election - said she wanted to see ministers slash public spending in a bid to grow the economy.

She was responding to a question at a fundraiser at the Enfield North Conservative Local Association in April 2024, asking whether major cuts in public expenditure would be necessary and if so, where they should fall.

Ms Mordaunt said: “One of the only levers that we have now to get ourselves motoring again is to reduce our expenditure and control public spending.”

She went on: “There's lots we can do to save money and every single week I could give you some examples... because when I stand up at the Despatch Box I have a list of everything that government has done that week and to be honest with you, only the top three things on that list are things that we should be doing.”

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Ms Mordaunt insisted the government should continue to splash out on the NHS, and insisted there were several budgets that should always be protected - but others could be more productive.

And she said more needed to be done to force more Whitehall staff to stop working from home and come into the office.

She said: “We've always protected certain budgets - defence and the schools budget and things to do with our national security.

"But everything else we have got to get more productive in.”

It comes after the Institute for Fiscal Studies accused both parties of a "conspiracy of silence" over refusing to say where cuts may fall.

The current government spending has billions of pounds worth of spending cuts baked in, for whoever wins the general election.

Under plans set out by Jeremy Hunt at the last budget, public spending will rise by one per cent a year in real terms from 2025.

Departments such as the NHS and defence will be protected - but other departments won't be.

The IFS say that could mean cuts of 3.5 per cent.

But the think tank has accused parties of failing to be honest about it - and what it means.

Penny Mordaunt taking part in an election debate on Thursday.
Penny Mordaunt taking part in an election debate on Thursday. Picture: Getty

Experts believe services such as local government and police budgets are most at risk with up to £20billion of possible cuts baked in.

Both the Tories and Labour have spent the last three weeks of the election campaign accusing the other of huge unfunded spending plans.

Rishi Sunak said earlier this week when grilled about what cuts would be coming to councils and prisons: "Investment in day to day public services will continue to rise ahead of inflation.

"But I also think it's reasonable to look for efficiencies in the public sector."

Yesterday Sir Keir Starmer refused multiple times to rule out cuts to spending if he wins the election - but insisted there would be "no return to austerity" under Labour.

He's expected to carry out a speedy spending review if he gets into No10 to determine what should happen to budgets.

A spokesperson for Ms Mordaunt has been approached for comment.

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