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Hunt refuses to rule out new taxes but says Tories' 'direction of travel' is lower taxation

30 May 2024, 08:12 | Updated: 30 May 2024, 08:22

Jeremy Hunt on tax

By Jenny Medlicott

Jeremy Hunt has refused to rule out new taxes if a Conservative government is elected, but has insisted the party’s ‘direction of travel’ is to lower taxation.

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The Chancellor told LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: “A future Conservative government will not increase income tax, national insurance or VAT.”

Mr Hunt also confirmed the commitment to not raising VAT was for the lifetime of the next government, if elected.

Asked if he could confirm that there would be no new taxes for the whole of the next parliament, Mr Hunt said: “What I can say is we will not increase those three major taxes and I can’t predict what’s going to happen on every single tax but if you look at my record as Chancellor I have started to bring down the overall tax burden.”

Pressed again on whether this meant he could not definitively rule out any new taxes under a future Conservative government, he continued: “I’m not going to write every single budget of the next parliament but I can tell you that our direction of travel will be to bring taxes down.”

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It comes after both the Conservatives and Labour ruled out VAT hikes if either party wins the General Election.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt warned that rises to taxes on products and services could "hammer families' finances”.

On Wednesday, Mr Hunt called on Labour to make the same pledge as he claimed the party had repeatedly refused to rule it out when asked at campaign events.

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Jeremy Hunt ruled out VAT hikes if the Tories win the election.
Jeremy Hunt ruled out VAT hikes if the Tories win the election. Picture: Alamy

Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Hunt said: "I can commit today that, not only will a future Conservative government not increase any rate of income tax or national insurance, but we won't increase the main rate of VAT for the duration of the next Parliament."

Shortly after, the shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves insisted Labour was not planning to increase VAT, as she ridiculed Mr Hunt's accusations as “absolute nonsense”.

Ms Reeves said: "Labour will not be increasing income tax, national insurance or VAT.

"I want taxes on working people to be lower, not higher. That is why we opposed the increases to national insurance when Rishi Sunak put those forward as chancellor."

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt urged Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to make a similar commitment "on camera".

Meanwhile, the health spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, Daisy Cooper, also confirmed that her party could rule out any future VAT increases.

She told LBC: "We can definitely rule that out. We've said repeatedly that during a cost of living crisis, the Liberal Democrats would never be looking to raise taxes on struggling families."

It comes after the Conservatives unveiled their first election poster on Wednesday, which shows a giant red piggy bank bearing the words: "If you think Labour will win, start saving..."

It claims Labour's fiscal plans would cost working families £2,094.

Rachel Reeves labelled Mr Hunt&squot;s accusations as "nonsense".
Rachel Reeves labelled Mr Hunt's accusations as "nonsense". Picture: Alamy

During speeches earlier this week, Ms Reeves said Labour has no plans to announce new tax rises beyond already announced policies, including a plan to charge 20% VAT on private school fees.

Mr Hunt has since claimed credit for the commitment, claiming that Labour had "buckled under pressure" to rule out VAT rises.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the next UK government will face the toughest fiscal inheritance in 70 years.

During speeches earlier this week, Ms Reeves said Labour has no plans to announce new tax rises beyond already announced policies, including a plan to charge 20% VAT on private school fees.

Mr Hunt has since claimed credit for the commitment, claiming that Labour had "buckled under pressure" to rule out VAT rises.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the next UK government will face the toughest fiscal inheritance in 70 years.

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