Chancellor who once ‘looked like the future’ has been ‘found out’, says senior Labour MP
The shadow climate minister condemned Mr Sunak over his refusal to impose a windfall tax on oil and gas giants, accusing him of being “in denial” and “wholly out of touch”.
Mr Miliband also ridiculed of the chancellor for blaming the government IT system for not being able to uprate benefits – saying “the dude from Silicon Valley” was capable of fixing the computer problem.
“Over the last few months crypto has crashed and so has the chancellor,” said Mr Miliband in the Commons.
The senior Labour figure added: “How similar they are, the chancellor and cryptocurrency. [They] came out of nowhere, the value surged, looked like the future – but it’s all turned out to be one giant Ponzi scheme.”
“He’s been found out, he’s been rumbled,” said Mr Miliband. “Let’s face it, his colleagues all know it. He’s out of touch with what is happening in the country, and he’s out of his depth when it comes to the challenges this country faces.”
The reference to the “dude from the Silicon Valley” follows questions over Mr Sunak’s former status as a permanent US resident. It emerged that he held a green card for 18 months after joining the government.
Labour has pushed for a Commons vote on a windfall tax on Tuesday with an amendment which expresses regret at the omission of the policy from the Queen’s Speech.
Mr Sunak again rejected the idea of a windfall tax ahead of the vote, but repeated his claim that “no option is off the table” if the fossil fuel giants did not invest in new supply.
The chancellor told the Commons: “What we want to see are energy companies who have made extraordinary profits … investing those profits back into British jobs, growth and energy security.”
“But as I have been clear, and as I have said repeatedly, if that doesn’t happen soon and at significant scale then no option is off the table.”
The chancellor appeared to reject calls for an emergency budget measures this summer, saying: “Simply trying to borrow and spend our way out of this situation is the wrong approach and those paying the highest price would be the poorest in our society.”
“We will act to cut costs for those people without making the situation worse, we will continue to back people who work hard – as we always have – and we will do more to support the most vulnerable.”
Mr Sunak faced shouts of “When?” from the opposition benches.
Although Tory MPs were expected to vote against the Labour amendment, influential Tory MPs Mel Stride and Robert Halfon both backed the idea of a windfall tax.
“We’ve heard of the windfall tax in great detail today – I would support that,” said Mr Stride, chair of the Treasury committee. “I do think the arguments that he [Mr Miliband] has put forward are generally sensible.”
Mr Halfon told MPs: “The oil bosses are earning multimillion-pound salaries and getting multimillion-pound bonuses, they are in essence in my view the new oligarchs.”
The former Tory minister urged the chancellor to consider “both a windfall tax on the oil companies which we can then use to cut taxes for the lower paid or cut energy bills, and also introduce a [fuel] pump watch monitor to make sure that there is fair competition”.