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Conservative manifesto

Johnson wants Brexit done quickly, drops £80k income tax plan

Boris Johnson ready to get on with Brexit

Boris Johnson has pledged tighter immigration controls, no increases to income tax, national insurance and VAT and said he will bring the Brexit bill back to parliament before Christmas.

However, a plan to lift income tax thresholds for middle-earners to £80,000, announced during the Tory leadership campaign, has been dropped. Mr Johnson said this “was not the time” to introduce it.

This measure would have given a tax cut of up to £6,000 but was estimated to cost the Treasury around £8 billion.

Publishing the Conservative manifesto, he repeated his pledge to “get Brexit done”, review business rates, and set out a number of other promises, mainly focused on education and health in England.

He wants to raise the NI threshold to £9,500 next year with an ambition to take it to £12,500.

On Brexit, he intends to get the bill ratified in parliament in the week between the election and Christmas so that it is done before the UK is due to leave the EU on 31 January.

The manifesto rules out extending the transition period beyond the 31 December 2020 deadline.

A new National Skills Fund of £600m a year for five years is similar to plans announced by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, while the Manifesto proposes a review of Entrepreneurs’ Relief, noting that “some measures haven’t fully delivered on their objectives”.  Analysts believe the review a reaction to Labour’s proposal to abolish entrepreneurs’ relief completely.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said: “After a decade of the Conservatives cutting our NHS, police and schools, all Boris Johnson is offering is more of the same: more cuts, more failure, and years more of Brexit uncertainty.”

Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, said: “They are running scared of the verdict of the people of Scotland in this election.”

Business reaction was more favourable, particularly as the Tories are not proposing tax rise which form part of the Labour and LibDem proposals.

Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: “The Conservatives’ manifesto pledges welcome action on the major issues that can improve living standards and opportunities across the country.

Businesses will be heartened by a pro-enterprise vision

Josh Hardie, CBI

“Businesses will be heartened by a pro-enterprise vision, while looking for even more ambition on areas such as access to skills, infrastructure and reaching net zero.

“But the inconvenient truth remains: sustainable economic growth will be risked if there is a needless rush for a bare bones Brexit deal that would slow down our domestic progress for a generation.

“The National Skills Fund could make an important contribution to the significant upskilling efforts needed in the coming years. It needs to be delivered in partnership with business and come hand-in-hand with a detailed new immigration system that gives access to the full range of skills and labour the economy needs.

“Significant investment in local infrastructure will drive growth and reduce regional inequalities.  To get the UK moving, the next Government must match it with unequivocal backing for key projects like HS2 and Heathrow.

“The manifesto includes a range of practical actions to put the UK on the path to net zero, from electric vehicle charging networks to energy efficiency in homes. It could go further by backing onshore wind and a new financing model for nuclear power.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:  “Today’s Conservative Party manifesto recognises the importance of the UK’s 5.8 million small businesses and the self-employed to the economy, innovation, jobs and communities. It sets out a clear ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business. 

“It is right that in seeking to form the next government the Conservative Party has given clear pledges to support small businesses and the self-employed. Cuts to the Jobs Tax and Business Rates are strong pro-small business pledges. Small businesses will welcome these commitments as well as the commitment not to raise National Insurance for the self-employed and to clamp down on late payment. 

Nimesh Shah a partner at accounting and tax advisory firm Blick Rothenberg said: “The Conservative Manifesto proposals are fairly static, and it remains to be seen if more significant and radical policies will be introduced at a Budget following the General Election,.

“For now, it would appear that Conservatives have been very prudent in their policies when compared to their rivals, opting for a more cautious strategy in their manifesto.”

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