Senior Tories have given British Prime Minister Theresa May the all-clear to abandon a key pledge from the party’s last manifesto not to raise VAT, national insurance, or income tax.
In 2015, the party promised a “tax lock” not to increase these levies, but there are strong hints this pledge will not appear in the manifesto for June’s snap election.
Chancellor Philip Hammond hinted last week the party could drop the pledge when he said: “It was self-evidently clear that the commitments that were made in the 2015 manifesto did and do today constrain the ability to manage the economy flexibly.”
He added that while he does not have “some ideological desire to increase taxes”, he also thinks “we need to manage our economy sensibly and sustainably”.
Speaking to ITV’s Peston on Sunday, Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green dismissed claims the Tories were planning a “tax bombshell”, but prompted speculation taxes could rise for higher earners when he promised poor families would continue to be “supported”.
Also speaking on Peston on Sunday, former Education Secretary Michael Gove said Theresa May should be given “maximum freedom” on tax policy.
“If I were the prime minister or chancellor or advising them I would want to have the maximum freedom of manoeuvre on that because I think in dealing with the deficit and in making sure we have economic confidence in this country, I think we need to have a free hand,” he said.
Speaking after Mr. Hammond’s comments last week, UKIP leader Paul Nuttall said: “For a Chancellor to line up new tax rises on the same day as the prime minister has signalled the foreign aid bonanza will continue is deeply disappointing.
“The truth is that there is ample scope to cut out waste from public spending while protecting key services and avoiding tax rises for hardworking Britain.
“And if the Chancellor does want to find extra revenue, he should target multinational corporations that do not pay their way rather than ordinary working people.”