Belfast Telegraph

Tories intend to cut taxes for working families, Theresa May says

Theresa May has said it is her "firm intention" to reduce taxes for ordinary working families if she is returned to power in the General Election on Thursday.

Campaigning in West Yorkshire, the Prime Minister reiterated her assurance that the Conservatives remained a "low-tax" party.

However, she stopped short of repeating an apparent promise by Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon that there would be no rise in income tax for higher earners.

Mrs May said: "Our position on tax hasn't changed. We have set it out in the manifesto.

"What people will know when they go to vote on Thursday is that it is the Conservative Party that always has been, is and always will be a low-tax party.

"It is our firm intention to reduce taxes for ordinary working families."

The Conservative manifesto, published last month, said there would be no increase in VAT but dropped David Cameron's pledge in the 2015 general election not to raise income tax or national insurance contributions.

However, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Sir Michael said voting Conservative was "the only way" people could be sure income tax would not be hiked.

Asked if high earners could confidently vote Conservative next week, safe in the knowledge that their income tax would not go up, Sir Michael said: "Yes.

"You've seen our record. We're not in the business of punishing people for getting on, on the contrary we want people to keep more of their earnings.

"The only way they can be sure their taxes won't rise is to vote Conservative. We already know your tax will go up if you vote Labour on Thursday."

The manifesto commits the Tories to increasing the personal allowance to £12,500 and the threshold for the 40p higher rate to £50,000 by 2020.

Labour's plans would see the 45p rate of income tax kick in for people earning £80,000 instead of the current £150,000, with a new 50p rate for people earning more than £123,000.

Sir Michael said: "You can be sure your tax will go up if you're a higher-rate taxpayer if you stay at home on Thursday.

"We need every single vote, not simply to show Brussels we're serious about the Brexit negotiations but to underpin the strong economy we've created."

The Defence Secretary said Labour had announced a further £9.5 billion of unfunded spending on top of the £48.6 billion of policy pledges contained in its manifesto.

The extra plans include £6 billion for writing off student debt, £3.3 billion on unfreezing benefits and £134 million on capping regulated rail fares, he said.

For Labour, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Sir Michael's comments showed the Tories were the party for "the few, not the many".

"The mask has finally slipped," he said.

"The only guarantee the Tories are prepared to give at this election is to big business and high earners while low and middle income earners have seen no guarantee from Theresa May that their taxes won't be raised and pensioners are left to worry about whether they will be able to heat their homes or even keep their homes, with no clarity on cuts to winter fuel payments or the dementia tax."

For the Liberal Democrats, former business secretary Sir Vince Cable said: "Michael Fallon's comments raise the obvious question as to where the Conservatives will raise the money that their Chancellor knows will be needed if promised funding for schools, the NHS, the police and defence is to materialise.

"Since they are ruling out increases in income, corporate tax and VAT we must assume that there will be an increase in national insurance and in various 'stealth taxes' yet to be specified. It undoubtedly raises suspicions."

Jeremy Corbyn said the Tories were in "chaos" over their tax plans.

After hosting a roundtable with pensioners in Lincoln, the Labour leader told reporters: "I think there's complete chaos going on at the top of the Government.

"One minister says they're going to give no more tax rises indeed possibly tax reductions for the very wealthiest, then they can't answer the question about tax rises for the rest of the population, then they can't answer the questions about funding social care.

"Let's be clear - what Labour are offering is no tax rises or national insurance rises or VAT rises for 95% of the population."