A Labour Party MP and former minister has claimed the ruling Conservatives are "in bed" with the "hard left" on mooted corporation tax hikes.
Ben Bradshaw, the MP for Exeter in Devon and a former culture minister, attacked Conservative peers William Hague — a former party leader — and Philip Hammond for supporting reported plans by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, to raise taxes in Wednesday's budget.
Bradshaw said the rise would come "at the very worst time for our economy" and would stifle economic growth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
— Ben Bradshaw (@BenPBradshaw) March 2, 2021
Sunak is also said to be considering keeping the earnings threshold for paying the higher 40 percent income tax rate at £50,000 per year — a level that hits many professionals and even skilled workers in the pocket.
Debate around the rumours have seen Labour and the Conservatives attempting to 'triangulate' one another, each stealing the other's political clothes.
On Sunday, Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said her party would consider supporting "long-term" plans for "changing the corporation tax regime" but warned: "I would be concerned about additional taxes on business right now."
— Guido Fawkes (@GuidoFawkes) March 1, 2021
"It pains me to say, after spending much of my life arguing for lower taxes, that we have reached the point where at least some business and personal taxes have to go up," Hague said.
"Most of us Conservatives have spent decades arguing for a smaller state," he continued. "But in the 2020s this argument is already lost. Austerity was jettisoned at the last general election."
One Tory Cabinet Minister opposed to tax rises is Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. He told LBC radio's Nick Ferrari "I am a low-tax Conservative.
"The real key is to grow the economy. The best remedy for the deficit... is to open up the economy, allow people to get on with their life, allow businesses to start trading again," Kwarteng insisted. "Through that growth I think we'll be able to tackle the deficit."
— LBC (@LBC) March 2, 2021
But Hague, who used to occupy Sunak's seat of Richmond in Yorkshire, said the post-pandemic British state "is certain to be bigger, spending billions more every year on healthcare, vaccinations, stockpiles of equipment and much-needed support for apprenticeships and others who have lost out most heavily in the crisis.
“When the Chancellor gets to his feet tomorrow, he will no doubt continue to spend on a massive scale," the former leader predicted. "But it is also time to rediscover and reassert some basic truths of fiscal conservatism and cast illusions aside. That Labour will oppose this is perhaps not surprising.”