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UK parties turn on the spending taps in election pitch

AFP  |  London 

Britain's two main parties promised billions of pounds of investment for hospitals, schools and infrastructure on Thursday as they seek to woo voters weary of austerity ahead of next month's election.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives confirmed an end to a decade of belt-tightening with new plans to borrow to invest, while attacking the rival Labour party for pledging even greater largesse.

Speaking in Manchester, northwest England, Finance Minister Sajid Javid said the Tories would "get Brexit done", allowing Britain to move on after three years of uncertainty over its European Union exit.

In September, Javid announced plans to raise government spending by ?13.8 billion ($16.8 billion, 15.3 billion euros) on health and education and to put more police on the streets.

He said on Thursday that his government would never spend day to day more than it brings in, but "we can borrow in real terms at negative interest rates, meaning it is a responsible time to invest".

With higher wages, more investment in education, health, the environment, rail, road and digital infrastructure, "we can build a decade of growth, of opportunity, of prosperity for all", he said.

Many businesses were alarmed by Johnson's threat to leave the EU without a divorce deal with Brussels, warning it would wreak economic havoc. He now has a deal, but it has yet to be ratified by MPs.

Javid argued that "by far the biggest fear of business" is a government led by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a socialist who has promised to renationalise utilities and railways if he wins power.

"They'll ruin your finances, they will raise your taxes and they will saddle the next generation with debt," the Conservative minister said. In nearby Liverpool, Labour finance spokesman John McDonnell set out his own spending proposals for "investment on a scale never seen before" in Britain. He announced ?400 billion in new investment in energy, transport, schools, hospitals and social housing among others. McDonnell urged voters not to trust the Conservatives to improve public services. "They take us all for fools. Judge them on their record and their actions, not on their election gimmick false promises," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, November 07 2019. 20:40 IST
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