Boris Johnson defends Conservatives’ spending plans amid think tank criticism

Boris Johnson has defended the Conservatives’ spending plans, despite a leading economic think tank warning that the party was “highly likely” to spend more than its manifesto implied.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned that a no-deal Brexit under the Tories – if the PM was unable to secure a free trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020 – could lead to a “big downturn” and a return to the politics of austerity.

But Mr Johnson insisted that his party’s plans were “fully costed”, and that the Tories have the “wherewithal” to make commitments on the NHS, education and infrastructure.

In an interview with the PA news agency, the PM also refused to commit to an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Neil despite Jeremy Corbyn being grilled by the veteran journalist earlier this week.

And Mr Johnson would not say whether he would stay on as prime minister if he loses his Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat, but wins a majority overall in the country.

He said: “This is a fully costed manifesto and the difference between us and the Labour Party is that we have the wherewithal to make these fantastic commitments that we’re making to the NHS, to infrastructure, gigabit broadband, potholes – you name it, we’re doing it…

“We can do it because in the last nine years we have run a strong economy and we’re going to turbocharge the economy now under this new Conservative administration – I think it would be a disaster to go for Labour’s approach.

“And the big economic risk is that we don’t get Brexit done – we stay in the state of limbo, businesses unable to make decisions, jobs not being created, ventures not being started, investment not coming in. That’s the real risk.”