General election: Johnson's manifesto pledges 'triple tax lock' and Brexit vote in weeks

23 November 2019, 20:21 | Updated: 24 November 2019, 12:35

Boris Johnson is promising to bring the Brexit bill back to parliament before Christmas - and introduce a "triple tax lock" to ensure rates of income tax, national insurance and VAT do not rise under a Conservative government.

Ahead of the Conservatives manifesto launch in the West Midlands on Sunday, Mr Johnson said he wants the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to be debated and voted through before Christmas Day so people can "enjoy their festive season free from the seemingly unending Brexit box set drama".

He said a Tory majority would mean "we can get Brexit done by the end of January".

The "triple tax lock" is said to build on the party's promise to raise the threshold for National Insurance contributions to £12,500 - a measure it claims would save the average worker £500 a year.

Mr Johnson said: "My early Christmas present to the nation will be to bring the Brexit bill back before the festive break, and get parliament working for the people.

"The Conservative manifesto... will get Brexit done and allow us to move on and unleash the potential of the whole country.

"Uncertainty ended, investment unlocked, a nation moving forward once again."

Other pledges listed in the manifesto include:

  • Reducing levels of immigration and introducing a points-based system post-Brexit
  • 20,000 extra police officers
  • A three-point plan for adult social care, including £5bn in short-term funding
  • £6.3bn to improve energy efficiency in 2.2 million disadvantaged homes - reducing bills by up to £750 a year
  • Doubling funding for dementia research, with an extra £83m a year
  • New measures to fight knife crime and speed up the handling of knife crime cases in the courts
  • More support for rape victims, extra protections for domestic abuse sufferers and a "Victims Law" to guarantee their rights
  • A stamp duty hike for foreign individuals and companies buying property in the UK
  • Free TV licences for over-75s - with the BBC paying for them
  • £3bn for an adult retraining programme
  • Keeping the pensions triple lock so state pension increases by highest of CPI inflation, wage growth or 2.5% each year
  • Keeping winter fuel payments to help pensioners with heating costs, as well as bus passes for older people and the energy price cap
  • A pothole-filling programme, with an injection of £2bn as part of the government national infrastructure strategy

There are several plans for the NHS in the manifesto, with an extra £33.9bn of funding by 2023-24 already announced.

The manifesto adds in free hospital car parking for disabled people, frequent outpatients, gravely ill patients, visitors and carers to long-term patients, as well as staff working out-of-hours shifts.

The Tories have also pledged to make 50 million extra GP appointments available, build 40 new hospitals over a decade, and upgrade equipment such as CT scanners and MRI machines.

Childcare also gets a funding boost in the manifesto, with an extra £1bn to be spent on after-school and holiday childcare, with plans for 250,000 more primary school children to get on-site childcare over the summer holidays.

Teachers' starting salaries will be increased to £30,000 as part of an extra £14bn boost for schools, with at least £5,000 promised for each secondary school pupil and at least £4,000 for each primary school pupil.

Conservatives are also vowing to tackle potholes, with £2bn promised for a filling programme over four years.

On the environment, they are pledging a ban on exporting plastic waste to non-OECD countries and the creation of an Office for Environmental Protection to implement carbon neutrality by 2050.

Mr Johnson used the environment to take a dig at Jeremy Corbyn, who has said he will remain neutral over Brexit if Labour enters power.

He said: "We now know the country can be carbon natural by 2050 and Corbyn neutral by 2020 - as the leader of the opposition has decided to duck the biggest issue facing our country today.

"If Corbyn can't decide how he would vote in his own referendum, why would the EU even give him a deal - and, more importantly, how can we possibly trust him to lead the country?

"Imagine the Friday 13th horror show if the Corbyn-Sturgeon coalition of chaos is triumphant - more dither and delay, two more divisive referendums and economic ruin. We cannot let this nightmare before Christmas come to pass.

"Don't let Corbyn steal your Christmas - vote Conservative to get Brexit done and let 2020 bring peace, goodwill and prosperity to our country."

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A preview of the manifesto made no mention of rail strikes, but the Tories are expected to announce plans to legislate for some train services to run during industrial action to balance out the needs of rail workers' right to strike and other workers' right to go to work.

The plan has been met with anger by union leaders ahead of 27 strikes during December on South Western Railway in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.

Labour, the Green Party and the Lib Dems all released their manifestos earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Labour is promising to compensate more than 3.5 million women left out of pocket after increases to the state pension age.

The party said the payout could amount to £58bn over five years - with individual payments averaging £15,380 running to a maximum of £31,300.

It follows a lengthy campaign by the so-called "Waspi women" who said they were given insufficient time to prepare for the changes brought in by the former coalition government.

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