'Taking back control?': Tom Swarbrick savages Brexit Govt for not slashing VAT rate

17 March 2022, 17:00

By James Bickerton

Tom Swarbrick has blasted the Government for not using post-Brexit powers to slash VAT on fuel to zero, as Britain fights a cost-of-living crisis.

Under EU rules the standard VAT rate must be at least 15%, with 5% allowed for a limited number of exceptions.

During the 2016 referendum campaign Brexiteers argued leaving the EU would give the UK more control over VAT rates.

Tom Swarbrick commented:  "I don't understand why, if one of the 'benefits' of leaving the European Union, was we got to set out own VAT rates, why nothing has being done about it.

"You're paying 25% VAT on fuel - why not cut it to zero?

"We've got the opportunity to do it. I thought that's what 'taking back control' was meant to be about."

UK fuel prices are surging in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with diesel rising to nearly £1.80 per litre this week.

The cost of petrol has also surged, to nearly £1.65p for each litre.

It comes against a backdrop of financial hardship, with Britons facing surging inflation and a cost-of-living crisis.

READ MORE: Bank of England warns inflation could soar to 8% as interest rates rise again

Tom Swarbrick also argued the Government should scrap the planned National Insurance hike.

He said: "Explain to me the reasons, the political reasons, why it's a good idea to put a National Insurance hike in next month?

"For the life of me I can't understand why they're going to go through with it."

Under Boris Johnson's plan National Insurance will surge by 1.25% next month.

This will bring National Insurance to 13.25%, which the Government says will raise another £12 billion for the NHS and social care.

Mr Johnson announced the increase last September, which he claimed would fund "the biggest catch-up programme" in the history of the NHS.

On Wednesday, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned the growing cost-of-living will be a "catastrophe" for many Britons.

He commented: "The cost-of-living crisis has really taken over from the Covid crisis as a real catastrophe for people.

"What you can see from the polling is that the cost-of-living crisis is by far the biggest priority for people."

READ MORE: Gordon Brown says Scots facing cost of living 'catastrophe'

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