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Boris Johnson sells his optimism in Britain’s first post-pandemic budget | International

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Amidst the gloom of Britons, affected by the loss of purchasing power, the shortage of basic goods and the disappearance of state aid to alleviate the COVID crisis, the government of Boris Johnson used the first post budget -pandemic to sell a new era of optimism in the UK. The draft expenditure review for the next three years, presented on Wednesday by the Chancellor of the Chess board, Rishi Sunak, in the Commons, understands the biggest increase in public spending this century, according to the minister, as well as a package of measures intended to mitigate the increase in the cost of living.

In a complex balancing act, the chief financial officer nevertheless stressed the need to respect budgetary discipline, which gave wings to the Labor opposition to denounce that what is given on one side will end up being cut off the other.

The truth is, in his pulse with Johnson’s glee at promising big investments (much to the dismay of the most conservative wing of the tories), Sunak has unexpected leeway: the latest official forecasts increase the growth rate of the economy for this year from 4% to 6.5%, and put it at 6% by 2022. These data have allowed Sunak to announce more calmly an increase of 150,000 million pounds (about 177,000 million euros) in the spending of all ministries.

The undisputed star of this receipt of public money is the NHS public health system, which added £ 5.9 billion to the 12,000 already committed in September, in line with the campaign pledge to regenerate the system. Brexit. Injecting various transport improvement projects in the north of England is also part of the Prime Minister’s so-called leveling program to correct regional inequalities, a guide for voters of the Red Wall, a stronghold Labor that Johnson succeeded in conquering in the United States, past elections (and already before, in the referendum on leaving the EU).

The Labor opposition which had Rachel Reeves as spokesperson in Parliament facing the loss of its leader to COVID, Keir Starmer denounces the populism of measures like the end of the public sector wage freeze (without specifying in what percentage ). they will increase) or the increase in the minimum wage (from 8.1 to 9.5 pounds an hour) which he says are insufficient and will not compensate for the rise in inflation. Or that the reduction in excise duties on alcoholic beverages, restaurants and the retail trade are giveaways to hide a more generalized tax burden. This comes after the announcement in September of the increase in social contributions and corporate tax.

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Once the public investment was started for the rest of the legislature, the challenge posed by covid and, above all, inflationary pressure was the argument used by Sunak to keep a reserve of liquidity to protect itself from future economic risks. The forecast of an inflation of 4% for next year (it now exceeds 3%) and the very high level of debt fueled by public aid at the peak of the pandemic require caution, underlined a Minister of Foreign Affairs who now promises strict spending control.

Some British analysts argue that this is a message to the Conservatives who want to lower taxes before the elections in three years. Sunak’s juggling responds to its leader Johnson’s obsession with covering all fronts, no matter how contradictory they are. He sees it as the key to repeat electoral victory.

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