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Labour’s tax proposals not hitting people hard, says shadow chancellor

John McDonnell insisted he had been extremely moderate in framing Labour’s spending pledges.

Labour is not hitting people hard through the party’s tax plans, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said.

Mr McDonnell insisted he had been extremely moderate in framing Labour’s spending pledges, adding that he had included some head room within the manifesto.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme, he said: “We’ll be in the middle range of other European countries, other countries, when it comes to tax levels, that’s all we’re doing.

“We’re not hitting people hard, 95% of earners will not have an income tax rise, they will not have an increase in VAT, they will not have an increase in national insurance contributions. Go and ask the Tories what they are saying.”

Mr McDonnell argued the Institute for Fiscal Studies had got it wrong in its assessment of Labour’s manifesto spending plans.

He said: “There’s no figures in the Tory manifesto apart from the pages numbers, but with us we’ve been straightforward and honest.”

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John McDonnell (Philip Toscano/PA)

Mr McDonnell said: “On the proposals that we’ve put forward, where there is some elements where we think that we might not achieve all the figures, I’ve reduced those figures so they are very moderate.

“But in addition to that, I’ve put in some head room as well, a number of billion pounds head room just in case some of them don’t raise everything.”

David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury, told the programme the Conservatives were right not to have committed to no tax rises, as the party did in 2015.

He said: “We have taken the view that it is right, given that we have entered into a period of some uncertainty, to retain flexibility to respond to different circumstances, and that legislating for these things is not necessarily the right way forward.

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David Gauke (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“We don’t believe we need to, as things currently stand, on the numbers we have, we don’t need to raise taxes, because we’ve not got a massive wish list of promises in the way the Labour Party has.”

Mr Gauke said high earners would be “clobbered” for taxes under a Labour government, while he also defended Chancellor Philip Hammond’s low profile in the election campaign.

“We’re all focused on winning this General Election, it’s what the country needs,” said Mr Gauke.

“I know that Philip is out and about across the country, campaigning very hard, and that’s what we’re all doing.”

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