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Tories vow manifesto will be ‘most transparent in history’ on spending

The Chancellor was questioned how the party could afford a slew of investment after ruling out any major tax increases.

Sajid Javid is willing to borrow as much as £20 billion to pay for infrastructure upgrades (Steve Parsons/PA)
Sajid Javid is willing to borrow as much as £20 billion to pay for infrastructure upgrades (Steve Parsons/PA)

By Patrick Daly, Catherine Wylie and Elizabeth Arnold, PA Political Staff

Chancellor Sajid Javid has said the Conservative manifesto would come with the “most transparent” explanation of how the policies would be paid for ever seen in “British electoral history”.

Boris Johnson is set to unveil his election manifesto on Sunday in Telford, a Leave-voting area of the West Midlands, which will establish a “triple tax lock” but will also scrap hospital charges for millions and invest £1 billion in childcare.

Other pledges in the Prime Minister’s vision for government include £6.3 billion for energy efficiency measures to reduce fuel poverty, £3 billion towards a national skills fund and £2 billion to fill in potholes.

Mr Javid said voters could be “absolutely certain” that the three biggest taxes – income tax, national insurance and VAT – would not rise over the course of the next parliament if the Tories secure a majority in the Commons.

The senior Cabinet minister said it would be explained in a “very detailed costings document”, published alongside the manifesto, how investment was to be paid for given that tax rises had been ruled out.

The Treasury boss has already outlined how he is willing to borrow as much as £20 billion to pay for infrastructure upgrades.

“It will be the most detailed, most transparent costings that have ever been published in British electoral history by any party,” Mr Javid told the Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme on Sky News.

Mr Javid said the tax changes being put forward, such as raising the national insurance threshold by almost £1,000, would be “absolutely focused on the lowest paid” and said tax cuts would only come “whenever we can afford it”.

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(PA Graphics)

However, those words were challenged by an unearthed clip of Mr Johnson’s chief aide Dominic Cummings, who in 2017 said that Tory MPs largely did not care about poor people or the NHS.

When shown the clip on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the Number 10 official’s views were not reflective of the Government’s record.

Mr Gove said: “He’s wrong about that. There are a number of occasions where I’ve disagreed with Dominic on this issue and some other matters as well.

“Our manifesto today has detailed proposals to help those towns and communities that have been overlooked and left behind in the past.”

The Tories were boosted on Sunday by fresh polling that suggested the PM could be on course for the largest majority seen since the days of Margaret Thatcher.

As reported in the Sunday Times, analysis by Datapraxis suggested the Tories could be set to romp home with a 48-seat majority – the best showing by the party since the 1987 general election.

Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats, admitted her party was being squeezed in the polls but said it was Lib Dem candidates who stood the best chance of preventing a blue victory.

Datapraxis’ number crunching suggested Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Steve Baker, the leader of the influential European Research Group, and even the PM could be at risk of losing their seat if people opted to vote tactically for the Lib Dems.

Ms Swinson told the BBC: “There is a real opportunity for Liberal Democrats to win seats from the Conservatives and stop Boris Johnson and his bad Brexit deal.”

In a conciliatory sign, Ms Swinson said her party could support Mr Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement or Labour’s exit deal as long as they came with the promise of a second referendum.

Mr Johnson, as part of his manifesto offering, has said his Brexit terms would be put back to MPs before Christmas in order to sign off the UK’s divorce with Brussels before the January 31 deadline.

“I’m not putting Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10,” added Ms Swinson.

“But if there is a law in Parliament that I can vote for that makes sure that the Brexit deal is put to the public, with the opportunity to Remain, I will vote for that.”

The former minister was critical of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to remain neutral in any such final say on Brexit.

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(PA Graphics)

But shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Mr Corbyn’s position was a sign of “strength and maturity”.

Labour announced its own fresh pledge on the weekend, vowing to borrow £58 billion to compensate Waspi women who have been financially hit by the decision to raise the pension age from 60 to 66.

The commitment had not appeared in its manifesto that was published last week.

Mr McDonnell told Sky News he thought the next government had “a sense of responsibility to redress this injustice”.

The policy was criticised by Ms Swinson, who said political parties could not simply draw up a “wish list” of things they would like to see.

“I mean, they’re costed (the Waspi pledge) but where’s the money coming from is the question that was not answered?” she asked.

“Anybody can write a wish list and say all of the wonderful things that people could have, but I think people generally know that you don’t get something for nothing.”

PA

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