THE UK Government has set “alarm bells ringing” as it pledged a “return to Thatcherism” and more budget cuts as families struggle to make ends meet.

In a move thought to be an attempt to “appease” Tory right-wingers, Stephen Barclay, Boris Johnson’s new chief of staff, said the Government would prioritise cutting spending and reducing the size of the state.

In a piece for the Sunday Telegraph, Barclay wrote: “Now, it is a priority to restore a smaller state – both financially and in taking a step back from people’s lives.”

The National:

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Elsewhere, Jacob Rees-Mogg told the Sunday Express he was committed to a “bonfire of red tape” in his new role as Minister for Brexit Opportunities.

He promised his reforms would make the EU “look at us in horror”, adding: “It is very much really what Margaret Thatcher did in the 1980s."

The pledges were met with shock and the UK Government has been accused of “stripping funding away at the worst possible time”.

The National:

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Alison Thewliss, the SNP’s shadow chancellor, said: “It is deeply concerning that in the middle of a Tory cost of living crisis, the Westminster government is talking about cutting financial support, slashing the size of the state and returning to Thatcherism.

“These shocking plans might appease right-wing Tory backbenchers but they will sound alarm bells across Scotland, about the future direction of Brexit Britain - and the damage the Tories are willing to inflict on our people and communities.”

She added: “Scotland still bears the scars of Thatcher’s policies.

"After a decade of Tory austerity cuts and the devastating impact of Brexit, the UK government should be investing in our public services, boosting household incomes and stimulating economic growth - not stripping funding away at the worst possible time.

The National:

“This warning sign demonstrates, yet again, that there will be no fair recovery under Westminster control.

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"Instead the Tory government is threatening our public services and making people poorer.

"The only way to keep Scotland safe from Tory cuts is to become an independent country, with the full powers needed to build a fairer, greener future.”

Elsewhere in Barclay’s piece, he attempted to excuse the Johnson’s breaches of his own Covid rules. Though he labelled them “frustrating”, he went on: “But the Prime Minister has apologised for the things we simply did not get right, and for the way that some matters have been handled.

“And knowing the Prime Minister as I do, he is the best person to deliver the mission of renewal and recovery.”

It comes after Johnson last week announced his intention to drop all of England’s remaining Covid rules at the end of February – a month earlier than planned.

If the changes go ahead, it will mean people in England who test positive for the virus will no longer need to self-isolate.