Chancellor u-turn on top rate income tax abolition 'right decision', says Douglas Ross

Reversing the move to abolish the top rate of tax for the highest earners after a week of intense criticism is the “right decision”, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said.

Douglas Ross, speaking to a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, backed the u-turn despite calling for the SNP to follow the cuts last week.

Scottish Conservative social media accounts repeatedly called for the SNP to repeat the tax cuts for 2.4 million Scots.

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However, the Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced on Monday morning that the decision to abolish the 45 per cent top rate of tax would no longer go ahead, urging that the UK government had “listened” to the criticism.

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The UK economy saw significant volatility last week following the mini-budget, with the pound dropping to as low as $1.03 to the dollar and the Bank of England forced to purchase £65bn of government bonds.

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Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng U-turns on scrapping 45p tax rate
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Mr Ross said the u-turn was the “right decision”, stating that “politicians have to listen and respond”, which is what the Chancellor has done.

He also said the “best parts of the government’s growth plans remain and the area that caused the most concern has gone”.

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Douglas Ross gave a speech to delegates at the Conservative Party Conference

The Moray MSP urged people to “look at this package of measures in the round”, saying the energy unit cap as the “largest package of support delivered by the government to families in my lifetime” other than furlough.

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He added: “Yes, they are major spending commitments, there is no getting away from that.

“However, we have to respond to national and international challenges and that is exactly what the government have done.”

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Mr Ross also announced his party’s intention to take forward a ‘rural first’ approach to policy which would see rural communities prioritised in every policy.

This is required, the Scottish Conservative leader said, due to the SNP government being “obsessed with centralisation” which has “stripped funding from communities and local services”.

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He said: “The result is that after 15 years in the SNP’s Scotland, place has a huge impact on the quality of life you will have.

“Right across Scotland, so many parts of our country are not being given a fair chance to succeed.

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“They are being held back by an SNP Government whose answer to the challenges of delivering services is to centralise into a one-size-fits all approach.”

He said this would see policies rolled out in the North and South of Scotland ahead of the Central Belt, where the majority of Scotland’s population resides.

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Other policies announced in the speech include a ‘rent to own’ scheme which would see tenants gain the right to buy their property after five years of renting and a National College of Scotland for virtual courses.

The SNP said Mr Ross’ u-turn on the mini-budget meant the public “simply can’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth”.

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SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: "There is one government that is holding Scotland back - one that has tanked the UK economy, prompted an unprecedented intervention from the Bank of England and imposed a deeply damaging Brexit on Scotland against our will.

Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, Jackie Baillie, labelled Mr Ross a “flip-flop”, adding while the u-turn was “welcome”, it was a “shame he told so many people the opposite first”.

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All episodes of the brand new limited series podcast, How to be an independent country: Scotland’s Choices, are out now.

It is available wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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