Not-So Conservative: Boris Reportedly Planning to Impose Highest Tax Burden for 70 Years

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks from 10 Downing Street to the press briefing
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

The nominally conservative government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson may introduce the highest tax burden on the British public in 70 years, amid record spending during the coronavirus pandemic and plans to tax the young and working-class for new National Insurance subsidies.

Boris Johnson’s government is reportedly planning on increasing National Insurance contributions in order to help fund the National Health Service (NHS) and care reforms. Should the changes go through, it would directly break 2019 Tory Party election manifesto commitments to not raise taxes.

A report from the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) found that if the government increases National Insurance (NI) contributions by one per cent, then the tax burden compared to gross domestic product (GDP) would reach 35.4 per cent by the 2024/25 fiscal year, The Telegraph reported.

Should the government increase NI by two per cent, then the tax burden would reach 35.4 per cent by 2023/24.

If the projections from the think tank holds true, then Johnson’s government would have imposed the highest tax burden on Britons since the government of socialist Clement Atlee in 1951, when it reached 36.1 per cent compared to GDP.

Research director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Duncan Simpson said: “Boris’s broken promises would leave working people facing the highest tax bills in a generation.

“Rather than look for a sustainable solution to social care through automation and finding savings, the PM’s plan would opt to hammer jobs and wages, with higher taxes than we’ve seen since the years after the war.”

The proposed National Insurance hikes have drawn pushback over the fact that the payments are only made by those under the state pension age and only impact earned wages, meaning that the tax hikes will impact the young and working-class disproportionately.

Mr Johnson has already received warnings from within his own government that such a move could spell disaster for the Conservative Party, which supposedly represents the low-tax, pro-freedom end of the political spectrum in the United Kingdom.

In a thinly veiled warning, Cabinet member and the leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg wrote in the Sunday Express about the historical example of former American president George Bush Sr. suffering a disastrous political defeat to Bill Clinton after he broke his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge.

“Voters remembered these words after President Bush had forgotten them,” Rees-Mogg wrote.

A spokesman from the Confederation of British Industry told Sky News: “While social care reforms are overdue and welcome, business would urge government to explore all alternative funding options before enforcing what amounts to a tax on jobs which could derail the UK’s economic recovery.”

A senior government source told the news outlet that the intended hikes were a result of the socialised healthcare system in Britain, the NHS, needing “more money” due to large backlogs of patients as a result of the Chinese coronavirus crisis.

“By the time of the next election, there could be 13 million people on waiting lists if we don’t act.

“No one should have to face lengthy waits for healthcare. We must do everything we can to properly equip the NHS to make sure everyone gets the treatment they need,” the government source said.

While the 2019 Conservative manifesto pledged that “Conservatives want to give you freedom – low taxes, opportunity, the chance to realise your dreams,” a separate report from the Taxpayers’ Alliance in February found that during the 11-year reign of the Tory Party, taxes have gone up on average every three days.

In total, since coming into power in 2010, the Conservative Party has raised taxes on 1,034 occasions.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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