Croydon South MP Chris Philp was rebuked by two senior radio presenters this morning for his attempts to defend the government’s “mini-budget” in his capacity as right-hand man of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Philp who has been made Chief Secretary to the Treasury by new Prime Minister Liz Truss earlier this month, repeatedly failed to address presenter Mishal Hussain’s questions (from 2:10) about the effects of the government’s actions on the financial markets, and was called “pitiful” by LBC morning host Nick Ferrari when he attributed the collapse in the value of sterling to “moves in global financial markets” caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The mini-budget or, as the government called it, “fiscal event” last Friday was immediately followed by a plunge in the pound’s value and led to an emergency intervention yesterday by the Bank of England which warned that without it there would be “a material risk to UK financial stability“.
However, Philp refused to concede that these events were related to the government’s measures, failing to tell Hussain if it was his view that “everything’s going according to plan” or whether he and the government had foreseen the reaction to them “and are therefore comfortable with it” before Hussain interrupted him, saying “you’re not addressing what I’m asking about” and pointing out that “what is happening is frightening for many people”. Philp replied by saying “volatility” has been experienced in other countries and refused to accept that recent problems had been “accelerated by your actions”.
Ferrari, having quoted scathing assessments of the mini-budget, which contained no mention of Ukraine, demanded that Philp “stop treating my listeners as fools” and said the crisis was down to “your bosses’s work” and needed to be changed, but Philp refused to accept responsibility, preferring to cite favourable responses by business organisations to some of the mini-budget’s measures rather than address its impacts.
Philp, who became Croydon South’s MP in 2015 and retained his seat with a majority of 12,339 in 2019, had claimed on Twitter on Friday that financial markets had responded enthusiastically to Kwarteng’s statement, but has since deleted the tweet.
Earlier this year Philp, when minister for technology and the digital economy with responsibility for combatting online disinformation, faced derision for refusing to distance himself from Boris Johnson’s false allegation in the House of Commons that opposition leader Keir Starmer had failed to prosecute the serial paedophile Jimmy Savile when he was Director of Public Prosecutions.
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