Jeremy Hunt to promise further tax cuts as he hits out at Labour over 'playground politics'

16 May 2024, 22:02 | Updated: 17 May 2024, 01:46

Jeremy Hunt is promising further tax cuts if the Conservatives win the general election.
Jeremy Hunt is promising further tax cuts if the Conservatives win the general election. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Emma Soteriou

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will vow to deliver further tax cuts if the Conservatives win the next general election, while hitting out at Labour over "playground politics".

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Mr Hunt will promise that "taxes will go down under a Conservative government" and accuse shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves of plotting hikes to fund Labour's spending pledges.

He will restate his plans to eliminate national insurance altogether - a move Labour has claimed is an unfunded £46 billion pledge.

Under current plans, the overall tax burden is expected to rise over the next five years to around 37 per cent of GDP, close to a post-Second World War high.

But Mr Hunt will say that it was necessary to pay for the furlough scheme during the pandemic and the energy bill bailout.

Read more: Chancellor predicts 'interest rate cuts this summer' but refuses to say when - as UK economy comes out of recession

Read more: Jeremy Hunt admits Britain needs to increase defence spending – but no extra cash will be given before next election

Mr Hunt will deliver a speech on Friday
Mr Hunt will deliver a speech on Friday. Picture: Alamy

Delivering a speech in London on Friday, Mr Hunt will say: "Labour like to criticise tax rises this parliament thinking people don't know why they have gone up - the furlough scheme, the energy price guarantee and billions of pounds of cost-of-living support, policies Labour themselves supported.

"Which is why it is playground politics to use those tax rises to distract debate from the biggest divide in British politics - which is what happens next.

"Conservatives recognise that whilst those tax rises may have been necessary, they should not be permanent. Labour do not."

He will say that "the lower-taxed economies of North America and Asia generally grow faster than the higher-taxed economies of Europe".

Mr Hunt is set to stress that the Tories' "ultimate aim" is to continue cutting national insurance until it is eliminated, but only "when it is affordable to do so".

"But with no plans to pay for their spending pledges, taxes will go up under any future Labour government as sure as night follows day," Mr Hunt will say.

"And taxes will go down under a Conservative government because we will do the hard work necessary to keep our economy competitive."

Labour not scaling back government ambitions, Starmer insists at campaign launch

It comes after Labour set out its six pledges ahead of the next general election.

Speaking on Thursday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer promised to deliver economic security, cut NHS waiting times, create a new border security command, set up a nationalised energy company, crack down on anti social behaviour, and recruit 6,500 new teachers.

They will be the first things the party will do if Labour wins the keys to power at the upcoming election.

Sir Keir said in a speech that Labour wants to show voters that "decline is not inevitable" and that "politics can make a difference".

He told Labour activists: "One card, six steps, in your hand - a plan to change the country. This is a message to take to every doorstep in the country."

Andrew Marr challenges Richard Holden on what Labour pledges he opposes

Speaking to LBC's Andrew Marr following the announcement, Tory party chairman Richard Holden said the six pledges were just "woolly ideas".

He added that he "doesn’t believe" the party will deliver on its promises on neighbourhood policing and NHS waiting times.

"I was looking at the neighbourhood policing pledge, for example, which goes totally counter to what Labour in government, actually in local government as the Mayor of London, has been doing," Mr Holden said.

"He's stopped borough policing in London, there is no borough policing in the boroughs, yet Labour's talk about wanting neighbourhood police officers when they're actually able to deliver these things.

"They're not delivering what they say. I don't believe them, because when they are able to deliver it, they're not delivering it.

"Look at the waiting lists in Wales, right, I want to see waiting lists come down right across the country, whether it's in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and they're obviously higher than we'd like them to be because of the pandemic.

"But the one place that they are significantly higher, very much higher than in England, is in Wales. And who's been running Wales for the last 25 years?

"The Labour Party, and they get more funding per head there. I would just ask people, it's all very well to lay out these woolly ideas, but when it comes down to it, just like we've seen with their GB energy policy, there's now a £12 billion hole.

"Let's be clear with the people about what it actually looks like as well."

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