Summer Budget 2015: Reaction
Political and industry leaders respond to George Osborne's second budget of the year
Labour: Back in the budget hotseat for the second time in five years, Acting Labour Leader Harriet Harman used her response to criticise George Osborne for failing to live up to his promises. Talk of a long-term economic plan was risible with the Government “ducking” a decision on Heathrow, while plans for a Northern Powerhouse were hollow given the Chancellor’s decision to “pull the plug” on rail investment. Harman also sought to do her successor a favour by positioning Labour as a credible voice on economic issues, promising the party would support the Government where it made sensible decisions and would not “play politics”.
SNP: The SNP’s Deputy Leader and Westminster Treasury Spokesman Stewart Hosie took a more ideological line on the Budget than the Labour Leader, branding the Chancellor a “high priest of an austerity cult”. He also focussed on the lack of energy policy announcements in Osborne’s statement, bemoaning the lack of moves to end a “connectivity inequity” in Scotland which he said could have compensated for the Government’s “ludicrous” decision on onshore wind subsidies.
TSC: In a typically cerebral response, Chair of the Treasury Select Committee Andrew Tyrie strongly endorsed the Government’s strategy on the deficit. However, he cautioned the House of Commons about the potential impact of external economic crises, particularly events in Greece and stock market turbulence in China.
Greens: The Green Party’s sole MP Caroline Lucas echoed Hosie in launching a broad attack on the Chancellor’s strategy, intervening in Tyrie’s speech to say the Budget would go down as a “pivotal moment in the dismantling of the welfare state”. She also positioned her party as among those rejecting an emerging consensus on further austerity.
CBI: Away from Parliament, Confederation of British Industry John Cridland branded the budget “double-edged” for business, saying firms would welcome measures to “balance the book and boost investment” but have concerns about legislation for wage increases.
TUC: The General Secretary of Britain’s trade unions Frances O’Grady was glad the Chancellor had “finally woken up” to the urgent need for wage increases, but accused him of “giving with one hand and taking away with the other” by cutting benefits and grants.
Photograph: University of Salford Press Office