“I’m amazed you don’t know that debt is rising.”
Tory Treasury Minister Laura Trott has endured a humiliating interview, where she was accused of failing to grasp basic economics.
During an interview with BBC Radio 4, Trott repeatedly claimed that debt was falling as a proportion of GDP, despite figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) which show it is rising.
OBR figures show that debt will rise from 89% of GDP in 2023-24 to 93.2% in 2026-27, it will then decline in the final two years to 92.8% cent of GDP by 2028-29. It comes as the economy continues to struggle amid low growth and poor productivity, undermining the Tory claim that the Conservative Party is the party of sound finances.
Trott was told by journalist Evan Davis: “What is puzzling me, is how you can be even talking about tax cuts, when a central pledge is getting debt down and debt is going up”.
She replied: “One of our fiscal rules is debt needs to be falling over the five year fiscal forecast as a percentage of GDP – which it is.”
A bemused Davis told her: “No, it’s higher in five years than now.”
“Not as a percentage of GDP,” Trott replied. To which Davis said: “Yeah, it’s higher. It’s going up.
He added: “Debt goes up. It falls at the end of five years a little bit. That doesn’t mean debt is going down. It means debt is going up. It’s higher in five years than now.” Davis added: “This is really basic? I’m looking at the latest OBR table”. Davis went on to say: “I’m amazed you don’t know that debt is rising.”
An embarrassed Trott claimed that she needed the figures as she had ‘different figures’.
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward