TAX RISES and spending cuts will be needed within months to deal with the “prolonged period of economic adjustment” caused by the vote in favour of Britain leaving the EU, George Osborne said.
The Chancellor said his stark predictions about the impact on the public finances “have started to be borne out by events” such as a tumbling pound and markets - despite a slight rally on Tuesday morning.
“It is very clear that the country is going to be poorer,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme as he stood by his warning that there would need to be a harsh emergency budget - dubbed a “punishment” package by some.
“We are absolutely going to have to provide fiscal security to people, in other words we are going to have to show the country and the world that the country can live within its means.”
Asked if that meant tax rises and spending cuts, he said: “Yes, absolutely. But that decision will come under a new prime minister - it’s obviously not possible while the Conservative Party is having a leadership contest.”
Mr Osborne has accepted that his prominent role in the Remain campaign has ended his chances of a move to Number 10 and conceded that the pro-EU push “did not get it all right”.
And he did not deny that he had been firmly opposed to the idea of having a referendum in the first place but lost the argument within the party.
“We had a big and lively debate about it,” he said, adding that he could “see the logic”.
“There were pluses and minuses to having a referendum but I agreed with the collective decision.”
The FTSE 100 rose 2% at the opening of trading on Tuesday, moving into positive territory for the first time since the Leave vote and sterling found some respite in overnight trading after taking a Brexit battering that saw it fall to a 31-year low.
Defending his campaigning against claims he went too hard with warnings about the potential implications of Brexit, Mr Osborne said: “I would say that the concerns those like myself, who argued passionately and full throttled articulated, have been started to be borne out by events.”
“Do I think there is going to be a post-mortem about why the campaign was lost? Of course, we didn’t win.
“We didn’t get it all right. If we had got it all right I wouldn’t be sitting here explaining to you why the pound has fallen to a 30-year low and billions of pounds has been wiped off the British stock market.
“What I am saying now is that we need a plan as a country to get ourselves out of this while respecting the verdict of the British people.
“That means financial stability, ending economic uncertainty and providing unity in our society.”