Rachel Reeves fails to say whether Labour would lower tax burden - as party hits out at Tories' 'Corbyn-style' manifesto

11 June 2024, 17:45 | Updated: 11 June 2024, 17:50

Rachel Reeves fails to say whether Labour would lower tax burden - as party hits out at Tories' 'Corbyn-style' manifesto
Rachel Reeves fails to say whether Labour would lower tax burden - as party hits out at Tories' 'Corbyn-style' manifesto. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Rachel Reeves has refused to say whether a Labour government would lower the tax burden if elected to power as the party hit out at the Conservatives' 'Corbyn-style' manifesto.

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The shadow chancellor was asked by LBC Tuesday afternoon if she could "categorically" commit to the tax burden being lower by the end of the next Parliament if Labour comes to power.

Ms Reeves said while the Conservatives are "willing to make commitments without being able to say where the money is going to come from", a Labour government "will never do that".

"I want taxes to be lower," Ms Reeves said, before accusing the Tories of increasing the tax burden to its highest level in 70 years.

"This is a big difference between myself and the Conservative Party... I will never play fast and loose with the public finances because when you do so, you play fast and loose with family finances."

Shadow Chancellor of The Exchequer Rachel Reeves departs a Labour manifesto meeting at IET London, 7 June
Shadow Chancellor of The Exchequer Rachel Reeves departs a Labour manifesto meeting at IET London, 7 June. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Starmer vows ‘no return to austerity’ under Labour but refuses to rule out cuts to public services

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It comes after Rishi Sunak unveiled the Conservatives' manifesto today where he promised to cut National Insurance for a third time.

The £10 billion headline pledge would see 2p taken off national insurance contributions for employees.

Speaking at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Northamptonshire, the prime minister unveiled his blueprint for the next five years, which also included regular deportation fights to Rwanda for illegal migrants and the return of national service for 18-year-olds.

However Ms Reeves said the "money is simply not there" for Conservatives' spending plans.

The shadow chancellor - who will be the first female chancellor if Labour is elected to power - said: The problem with what the Conservatives have put forward today is that the money is simply not there and that is why all it will end up doing is adding to people's mortgage costs £4800 in the next Parliament."

Labour frontbencher Pat McFadden also described the national insurance cut as "the most expensive panic attack in history".

He said it had not been properly funded and risked a return to the chaos of Liz Truss, which the Tories firmly rejected.

Sir Keir Starmer meanwhile accused the Conservatives of putting forward a "Jeremy Corbyn-style manifesto" full of uncosted promises. The Labour leader campaigned for Labour's 2019 manifesto as a member of Mr Corbyn's frontbench.

Asked about Tory claims a Labour government would hike taxes during a campaign visit to the Whale Hill Primary School in Middlesbrough, Mr Starmer said: "We have been absolutely clear that all our plans are fully costed and funded.

Keir Starmer says 'the money's not there' for Tory manifesto

"We will not be increasing income tax, national insurance or VAT, so no tax increases for working people. None of our plans require tax rises.

"But this is coming from the party that put tax to the highest level for 70 years and they're building this sort of Jeremy Corbyn-style manifesto where anything you want can go in it. None of it is costed. It's a recipe for more of the same.

"That's why this choice of turn our back on this, turn the page and rebuild with Labour is so important."

The Labour also said "the money's not there" for the Tories' flagship manifesto pledge to cut national insurance by a further 2p. He said the promise was "desperation" from the Conservatives.

"What they're producing is a recipe for five more years of chaos. I think that's why it's so important that we see this election as a choice, because we can't go on like this."

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