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Former Chancellor Clarke sounds recession warning


Ken Clarke

Ken Clarke

Getty Images

Ken Clarke

Recession is "not impossible" in the next few years, former Chancellor Ken Clarke has warned.

The veteran Tory MP made his comments during a Commons debate to discuss the Budget, when Chancellor Philip Hammond told MPs austerity was ending.

Mr Clarke welcomed a "courageous" Budget but urged caution due to the "uncertainties of Brexit".

He said: "We're all being sustained by an American boom, which might be quite short-lived - these fiscally-induced booms usually are.

"Recession is not impossible in the next two or three years.

"We have to make sure, first that we avoid it, but second that we're prepared for the warning signals when they come."

He also suggested that Mr Hammond had missed a trick by not taking the opportunity to raise taxes to be put towards the NHS. "The public were braced to pay something towards it," he added. "The first reaction is somebody else, some other taxpayer, should pay.

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"But I think we could have given ourselves more firepower and maintained our direction on debt by raising some taxes towards it."

Tax was also the focus of shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne after shadow chancellor John McDonnell caused controversy by saying he would not reverse Tory tax cuts for the middle classes.

Mr Gwynne rapped a "Budget of failure and broken promises".