Graham Simpson: Tory transport spokesman unaware of IMF warning over tax plans

The Scottish Conservatives transport spokesman was left red-faced this morning after being unaware of the international monetary fund’s (IMF) warning over Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget.

Graham Simpson MSP admitted he had not heard of the statement, which was issued last night and carried by much of the media this morning.

In an extraordinary statement on Tuesday evening, the IMF said it was “closely monitoring” developments in the UK and was in touch with the authorities, urging the Chancellor to “reevaluate the tax measures”.

It warned the current plans, including the abolition of the 45p rate of income tax for people on more than £150,000, are likely to increase inequality.

READ MORE: SNP’s John Swinney raises concerns over ‘stark’ IMF warnings over UK tax cuts

Speaking to BBC Good Morning Scotland, Mr Simpson was being interviewed about the ferry procurement when he was asked for his opinion on the IMF’s intervention.

He replied: “That’s the first I’ve heard of it so you’re springing that one on me.”

Presenter Laura Maxwell pressed on, saying: “It’s the top story across every outlet this morning, and all of our bulletins.”

Mr Simpson then demured, adding: “Yeah, ok. Right. Fair enough.” But he rallied to say he thought the Chancellor was doing a good job.

PA: Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng last week announced in a so-called mini-budget plans to scrap the top rate of tax and cut the basic rate to 19p in the pound.

The announcement sent the pound spiraling, with it eventually falling to an all-time low against the dollar.

Mr Simpson said he backed the plans, which he hoped would lead to growth.

READ MORE: IMF warning ahead of City bankers meeting

The MSP said: “So, I think there is an opportunity in November for the Chancellor to look at helping people at the lower end of the income scale.

“I would like him – and this is just a personal view I’m expressing – to help those un Universal Credit to make it easier for people to move into work. So there’s one idea which is just off the top of my head.

However, Mr Simpson rejected suggestions Mr Kwarteng should re-think the high levels of borrowing to fund tax cuts which have spooked the markets, saying: “I’m fully in favor of what the Chancellor has done so far. I like what he’s done.

“I think the measures he’s taken will help people, they are helping people. I think they could well lead to more growth, which is what we need.”

He added: “Credit where it’s due. I think the Chancellor has taken some bold measures and so far he has been doing a good job.”

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