3 min read
Boris Johnson failed to rule out future tax rises over the course of this Parliament as the country continues to battle with a “radically different” economy from his election in December 2019.
The Prime Minister suggested he is still “emotionally” committed to the Conservatives being a low tax party despite the hike to national insurance he announced today to pay for health and social care, and specifically the NHS backlog.
Johnson said repeatedly the fiscal position had changed in light of the pandemic and when challenged at a press conference at Downing Street about the likelihood of future tax rises, he did not directly answer and suggested Chancellor Rishi Sunak made those decisions.
He said: “All fiscal matters are a matter for the Chancellor. What I can certainly tell you is there are not many people in the Conservative Party or in government who are more dedicated to cutting taxes where we can than the three people standing before you. I assure you of the truth of that.
“But we face a reality which is the fiscal position has changed radically from the one that we found ourselves in, in 2019. The economy is growing strongly… we will come through this very well… but we’ve got to be reasonable and pragmatic so we’re taking the steps that we are.”
Asked again if he could rule out any further tax rises this Parliament, he said: “I certainly don’t want any more tax rises if you want me to give that emotional commitment, of course that’s the case.
“But there’s a formality in these things which is that fiscal matters are reserved… these are decisions the Chancellor must make in the course of his Budgets and that’s quite proper.”
The Prime Minister announced national insurance will rise by 1.25 % in 2022 to pay for health and social care, and from 2023 the tax will be a levy and shown separately on payslips. Funding will be available for social care for people who have assets of between £20,000 and £100,000 for the first time.
At the moment those who earn more than £23,250 currently receive no support from the Government.
Johnson has already angered some of his own backbenchers and party grandees with the national insurance tax rise which not only breaks a manifesto commitment – the second in a few months – but goes to the heart of the party’s core ideology of low taxation. A failure to rule out further tax rises may concern many, and especially rebel Tory MPs who whips will be trying to convince to vote for the proposal in the Commons tomorrow.
Sunak said the government had borrowed money at its highest level since the Second World War to pay for the fall-out from coronavirus, and raising taxes was a way for the country paying for health and social care without getting further into debt.
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