Jeremy Hunt blames Covid and the war in Ukraine to warn of economic gloom

Jeremy Hunt leaves 11 Downing Street

Jeremy Hunt says he hopes to cut inflation by more than half (Image: Getty Images)

The economy will “get worse before it gets better,” the Chancellor said – as he defended the decision not to increase public sector wages in line with inflation.

Jeremy Hunt, who made the comments after the release of yesterday’s dismal figures showing growth falling 0.3 percent, also insisted 12 years of Conservative rule and Brexit were not to blame for the UK’s financial woes.

Mr Hunt instead highlighted global issues such as the war in Ukraine and the pandemic.

Speaking to Sky News, he added: “I think it’s a very challenging international picture. About a third of the world’s economies are expected to be in recession this year or next. In this country we are no different.

“And honestly, it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. That makes it even more difficult when we have big strikes in the public sector at the moment. But we have a plan that will more than halve inflation next year. So if we stay the course, we can return to strong economic growth.’

He described strikes as a “symptom” of inflation, which hit a 40-year high of 11.1 percent in October, and said tackling it would counter “the underlining anger that many people feel”.

CWU members protest

Postal workers (pictured) recently went on strike (Image: Vuk Valcic/Shutterstock)

A train at Victoria Station

Rail to be disrupted by strikes in December and January (Image: Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

While Mr Hunt called unions “absolutely genuine” in demanding better wages for workers, he insisted that independent review bodies are best placed to make wage recommendations.

He also claimed that rising wages for people like nurses risked “locking in” inflation – a stance disputed by many economists, including the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

NHS nurses protest

NHS nurses and paramedics have voted to go on strike (Image: Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty Images)

Labor accused Mr Hunt and the Conservatives of attempting to shirk responsibility for Britain’s economic woes, claiming that the UK is “lagging behind on the global stage”.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “These are challenging economic times, but there is a choice.

“We can continue down the path of controlled decline and fall behind our competitors, or we can use bold thinking to push us forward.”

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Justin Scacco

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