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'Only billionaires can afford Starmer's tax hikes' blasts Sunak

19 June 2024, 08:53 | Updated: 19 June 2024, 10:28

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, billionaire co-owner of Manchester United, and Phones4U tycoon John Caudwell
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, billionaire co-owner of Manchester United, and Phones4U tycoon John Caudwell. Picture: Getty

By Charlie Duffield

As two of Britain's richest men pledge their support for Sir Keir Starmer's Labour Party, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has told LBC that "they can probably afford Labour's tax rises".

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On Wednesday morning, during an exclusive phone-in on LBC, Nick Ferrari asked the Prime Minister how significant it is that two of Britain's richest men are backing Sir Keir Starmer.

As recently as 2019, John Cauldwell gave £500,000 to the Tory party, with both he and Sir Jim Ratcliffe saying that Sir Keir Starmer is the future.

Sunak responded: "As you said, they're two of Britain's richest men, they can probably afford Labour's tax rises. But for tens of millions of people who are working really hard, they can't.

"I want to cut people's taxes. That's what I'm wanting to do for this country. We've started already by a £900 tax cut for everyone in work.

"I want to go further if I win this election to give people financial security. And what we've seen from Labour Party - just literally yesterday, on your own show Nick, Keir Starmer here all over the place, can't rule out whacking everyone's council tax up.

"I'm not going to do that. I want to cut people's taxes at every stage of their life - and that's the choice for everyone at this election."

Read more: Sunak reveals his daughters are 'excited' to do National Service - certainly more than 'learning maths until 18'

Read More: 'I didn't think we would win': Keir Starmer skewered by LBC listener over supporting Jeremy Corbyn

Last month, Sir Jim, who is the UK’s second-richest man, was pictured with Sir Keir Starmer at Old Trafford
Last month, Sir Jim, who is the UK’s second-richest man, was pictured with Sir Keir Starmer at Old Trafford. Picture: Getty

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, billionaire co-owner of Manchester United, has said he is backing Labour to form the next government as he said voters have "had enough" of Rishi Sunak's policies.

Last month, Sir Jim, who is the UK’s second-richest man, was pictured with Sir Keir Starmer at Old Trafford.

In a Bloomberg interview he said: “The Conservatives now have had a fairly long stint and they’ve put forward a whole series of prime ministers that haven’t been terribly successful.

“Everybody in the UK now, you can see that the mood in the UK is ready for a change, they’ve had enough.

“I’ve met Keir Starmer a couple of times, I like Keir. I think he’ll do a very sensible job.”

Sir Jim is based in Monaco and has criticised the Tories' handling of the UK's exit from the EU, despite being a prominent Brexiteer himself.

Likewise, Birmingham-born billionaire and Phones4U tycoon John Caudwell, who backed Boris Johnson in the last election, has also said he'll be voting Labour on July 4, because of his "despair" over the Tories' performance.

In 2019 he donated half a million pounds to the Conservatives to stop "the disaster that would have been Jeremy Cornyn in Downing Street."

But now he cites Labour's "transformation" under Keir Starmer as the reason for switching his political allegiance.

He told Stoke On Trent Live: "I can publicly say that I will vote for Labour, and I encourage everybody to do the same.

"For many years now I have been rather despairing about the performance of the party that I have supported for the last 51 years: the Tories.

"Only five years ago, I donated half a million to the Conservatives to help avert the disaster that would have been Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.

"But I've been increasingly critical of Tory failures since then, particularly over Rishi's mismanagement of the economy during Covid, Boris' lowering of ethical standards - and, of course, associated with that the accusation that Tory cronies benefited improperly regarding Covid PPE - and then the Liz Truss debacle.

"As I have always said, the government must be much more commercially-minded to grow GDP in order to finance the public services that benefit all of society without increasing taxes."

Specifically, he referenced his optimism about economic growth being a key part of Labour's manifesto, adding "that projected growth is clearly tied into making Britain a clean energy superpower."

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