No blanket guarantees on taxes
May rules out VAT rise if Tories re-elected
Theresa May has ruled out a Conservative government raising VAT if she wins the general election, but has offered no such guarantee on income tax and National Insurance.
Mrs May said in television interviews today that she would not be making “specific proposals” on taxes without being sure they can be delivered.
Her comments follow hints by the Chancellor Philip Hammond that the manifesto would give a Conservative government more “flexibility” on taxation after he was forced to reverse a planned rise in national insurance on the self-employed because it conflicted with a previous commitment.
However, Mrs May said: “We have no plans to raise the level of tax. In relation to specific taxes, we won’t be increasing VAT.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said there would be no increases in income tax for “low and middle earners” under Labour, adding that “the only increases will be on that higher percentage.”
Labour is also promising to increase the minimum wage, probably to £10 an hour, ban zero hours contracts and end the public sector pay freeze.
Mrs May pledged that state pensions would continue to rise, but indicated that there may be a new method to calculate increases to replace the triple lock which ensures the state pension increases in line with wages, inflation or by 2.5%, whichever is highest.
She rejected claims she was “in a different galaxy” to the rest of the EU on Brexit negotiations following warnings from European leaders that the “divorce talks” would be more complex than the UK government thinks.
European Union leaders endorsed stiff divorce terms for Britain on Saturday and warned Britons to have “no illusions” about swiftly securing a new relationship to keep their access to EU markets.
They took just minutes as they sat down to lunch in Brussels to approve eight pages of negotiating guidelines hammered out by their diplomats over the past month.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said his officials had identified a “cocktail” of 25 different legal issues to settle just regarding expatriate residence rights.
“I have the impression sometimes that our British friends — not all of them — underestimate the technical difficulties we have to face,
Mrs May said: “What this shows, and what some of the other comments we’ve seen coming from European leaders shows, is that there are going to be times when these negotiations are going to be tough.”
She reaffirmed her position that she would be prepared to walk away from talks without a deal if she did not like what was on offer from Brussels.
“I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t believe that,” she said. “What I also believe is that, with the right strong hand in negotiations, we can get a good deal for the UK.”