Jeremy Corbyn has claimed the Conservatives’ tax plans are in “chaos” after Theresa May failed to back a senior minister who said higher earners will not face an income tax hike under a new Tory government.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said voting Conservative in the general election on Thursday was “the only way” people could be sure income tax would not go up.
His comments went further than the party’s manifesto, which said they would keep taxes “low” but did not rule out a rise in income tax.
Campaigning in West Yorkshire, May declined to be drawn on his comments, saying only it was their “firm intention” to reduce taxes for ordinary families.
“Our position on tax hasn’t changed. We have set it out in the manifesto,” she said.
“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.”
Her comments were seized on by Corbyn, who said the Conservative leadership was in disarray. “I think there’s complete chaos going on at the top of the government,” said the UK Labour leader.
“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.”
For the Liberal Democrats, former business minister Jo Swinson said: “The Conservatives are in utter mayhem over their tax policy.”
The Conservative manifesto said there would be no increase in VAT but dropped David Cameron’s pledge not to raise income tax or national insurance contributions after Chancellor Philip Hammond complained that it limited his room for manoeuvre.
In an interview yesterday, Fallon said income tax “absolutely” would not rise under a re-elected Tory government.
Asked if high earners could confidently vote Conservative, safe in the knowledge that their income tax would not go up, Sir Michael said: “Yes”.
Fallon said: “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.”
Liberal Democrat former business secretary Sir Vince Cable said that if the Conservatives were ruling out income tax rises, they would have to find the revenue from elsewhere to meet their spending commitments.