Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has signalled he wants to cut taxes in the Budget, as the Tories gear up for an election in the face of dire poll ratings.
Holding out the prospect of more money for the NHS, families and the armed forces, Mr Hunt said he wanted to focus on growth in the Budget on 6 March.
The chancellor made clear that only unexpected bad news would prevent him from announcing a generous giveaway before a general election, expected in the autumn.
Only 20 per cent of more than 2,000 adults polled said they would vote for Rishi Sunak’s party, while fewer than half (49 per cent) of those who backed the Tories in 2019 intend to support them again.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Hunt said that while he had yet to see the fiscal numbers before the budget, he was hopeful of reducing taxes.
“I look around the world and I see that the parts of the world like the United States, like Asia, that are growing the fastest, have the most dynamic economies, tend to be places with lower taxes,” he told Sky News.
“And that was why in the autumn statement, we decisively cut taxes.
“So my priority in the budget will be growth, because if I can grow the economy, that will mean that then we have more money for the NHS, we can relieve the pressure on families, we can invest in our brilliant armed forces.”
He said cutting taxes was “the direction of travel we would like to go in” but it was too early to say what he would do.
The chancellor told political and business leaders at the summit that the UK was “on the up and open for business”.
The chancellor arrived at the summit in Davos later than other world politicians because he stayed in London to vote on the Rwanda bill on Wednesday night.
He said that by the time the vote was over the only way to get to Davos in time for his meetings on Thursday was to charter a private jet.
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “You see leaders from other countries around the world are here and without that leadership from the government, we’re missing out on investment, we’re missing out on jobs and prosperity.”