Britain could be heading to the polls in October, Jeremy Hunt suggests

Britain could be heading for an October general election, Jeremy Hunt has suggested.

The Chancellor indicated voters will be heading to the polls in the Autumn as he was grilled on his economic policies.

Rishi Sunak has always maintained the election will be in the “second half of the year.”

Last week he quashed speculation he was planning to “go early” as he ruled out holding a snap vote on May 2.

An election must be held by January at the latest.

The Chancellor appeared to let slip that the Prime Minister is thinking of an October date appearing before the Lords Economic Affairs Committee today.

Grilled about the government’s spending review, he said: “This particular spending review has to be completed before next April.

“If the general election is in October that will mean it’s very very tight.”

The Chancellor said that if there’s another fiscal event – like a Budget or Autumn statement – before the election he would like to freeze fuel duty again.

“I hope there is another fiscal event this parliament,” he said.

November has always been seen as the most likely month for a general election, with Thursday October 24 – days before the clocks go back – another possible date.

Earlier Mr Hunt suggested voters are facing a 1979-style economic choice between Tory growth or Labour’s unfunded spending pledges.

He said major forecasts show Britain’s economy will grow for the rest of the decade but he warned the Opposition’s economic policy would saddle millions with tax rises.

Branding Labour’s plan as a “black hole filled with platitudes” he said they would need to borrow “billions of pounds to fund unfunded spending pledges” on the NHS and decarbonisation.

Mr Hunt trashed Labour’s policies as he faced his opposite number, Rachel Reeves, in the Commons for the first time since the Budget.

During Treasury questions Tory MP Richard Fuller reeled off a number of positive economic forecasts from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) before echoing the electoral choice faced by voters in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher first came to power.

He said: “Does the Chancellor agree with me that when the shadow chancellor says we face a 1979 moment she is right – a choice between the Labour Party still in hoc to their Union bosses and a Conservative Party committed to growth.”

Mr Hunt responded: “I have got nothing to add to his brilliant list of statistics except to quote another independent organisation – the International Monetary Fund that says in the next five years this country under Conservative leadership will grow faster than France, Germany, Italy and Japan.”

The Chancellor used this month’s budget to announce his ambition to scrap national insurance.

He was challenged in the Commons by Ms Reeves about whether he had asked the OBR to cost plan.

Mr Hunt replied: “I’m very glad that she asked about national insurance cuts because first she supported them, then she abstained in the lobbies, and now she appears to be against them; like the bankers’ bonus tax which she was strongly in favour of and then strongly against, like £28 billion of borrowing she was strongly in favour of and then strongly against.

“Isn’t the actual truth here that where Labour should have an economic policy, there is just a black hole filled with platitudes?”

Ms Reeves countered “where will the money come from?.

“Will it come from cuts to the NHS, the state pension and public services? Will it come from increasing taxes, including for pensioners, or will it come from increasing borrowing? Which one, Chancellor?”

Mr Hunt dismissed suggestions it was a “mini-budget black hole”, adding: “We specifically said we wouldn’t fund national insurance cuts from increasing borrowing or cutting spending on public services.”

“If she wants to put on the mantle of fiscal rectitude, where is Labour going to find literally billions of pounds to fund unfunded spending pledges on grid decarbonisation, NHS waiting lists?

“We all know what that will lead to: higher taxes, like every Labour government in history.”

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