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Tories and Labour won't hike Vat but PM could axe tax 'triple lock'

By Arj Singh

VAT looks set to stay at 20% or less until 2022 after the Conservatives and Labour promised not to increase the tax on goods and services if they win the General Election.

Theresa May followed Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell in ruling out increases to VAT after the June 8 poll.

But the Prime Minister signalled she would scrap the Tories' flagship 'tax lock' pledge, which also rules out increases to income tax and national insurance.

She said it was her intention to cut taxes on "working families" while Mr McDonnell also promised to "protect middle and low earners", although neither defined exactly who they meant.

Mrs May told ITV's Peston on Sunday: "We have no plans to raise the level of tax. In relation to specific taxes, we won't be increasing VAT."

But asked if she would maintain the Tories' 2015 tax lock, which pledges no increases to income tax and national insurance as well as VAT, she told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show: "We have absolutely no plans to increase the level of tax, but I'm also very clear that we don't want to make specific proposals on taxes unless I'm absolutely sure that I can deliver on those."

The tax lock has proved troublesome for Chancellor Philip Hammond, who was forced into a humiliating U-turn after last month's Budget when a revolt from backbench Tory MPs made him ditch planned national insurance increases for the self-employed.

Mr McDonnell said Labour was committed to a "fair taxation system" and suggested "giveaways" to corporations and the rich would be reversed if Jeremy Corbyn was PM, to pay for pledges to spend on the NHS and schools.

He told Peston: "Look, there's going to be a barrage of attacks (over spending and tax increases), but the issue around fair taxation is that we will protect middle and low earners.

"I will say also, we will not increase VAT, and I want you to ask Theresa May that question as well because if you remember last time the Tories promised no increase in VAT and then they increased it afterwards.

"That's a regressive tax that falls on some of the poorest and middle earners as well, so that's one guarantee we're giving."

The shadow chancellor also criticised Mrs May after she suggested she could reform the pensions triple lock.

Labour has committed to maintaining the triple lock, which ensures the state pension increases in line with wages, inflation or by 2.5% - whichever is highest.

But Mrs May suggested she could modify the flagship Tory policy.

"Under a Conservative government the State pension will still go up every year of the next parliament," she told Marr.

"Exactly how we calculate that increase will be for the manifesto, and as I have just said you will have to wait for the manifesto to see what's in it."

May: My diabetes hasn’t been a hindrance

Theresa May has opened up about her Type 1 diabetes, insisting it is not a "health problem" and that it does not stop her doing anything.

The Prime Minister said it was hugely important that young people with the condition know "it won't be a barrier to them in their lives".

Mrs May told the Mail on Sunday: "People who have it can do whatever they like.

"What is important is that, when you sit round that table, you know what you want and have the strength and determination to make your point and make it clearly.

"Yes, Type 1 diabetes brings a change in one's life - I have to inject, test my blood sugar and so forth - but it doesn't mean there are things I can't do. You just build that into your life."

Mrs May also talked about how going to church is an important part of her life

"It's what I call spiritual connection and uplift," she said.

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