“You’re not idiots”: Sunak says audiences know why he can’t cut taxes

Rishi Sunak has hinted that only “idiots” wouldn’t understand the factors, meaning he can’t push through the immediate tax cuts that some conservatives want.

The prime minister insisted he wanted to cut taxes but argued that the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian war in Ukraine meant he could not do so just yet.

“You’re not idiots, you know what happened,” he told an audience in Morecambe, Lancashire, on Thursday.

His comments came during the week as Tory MPs who have aligned themselves with former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ tax cut agenda met for the first time as part of the “Conservative Growth Group”.

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Billionaire businessman Sir James Dyson has criticized the government’s approach to the economy (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Billionaire businessman Sir James Dyson has also criticized the government’s “short-sighted” and “stupid” approach to the economy.

Mr Sunak defended his policies during a discussion with voters he dubbed “PM Connect” as he seeks to reverse the Conservatives’ horrific polls.

In a sneer at Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister said: “When I was Chancellor I also very much preferred the Prime Minister not to comment on tax policy.

“I’m a Conservative, I want to lower your taxes… I wish I could do that frankly tomorrow, but the reason we can’t is because of all the reasons you know.

“You’re not idiots, you know what happened.

“We’ve had a massive pandemic for two years, we’ve had to shut down the country, do some extraordinary things that didn’t come cheap. Now we have this war going on that is having a huge impact on inflation and interest rates.”

Mr Sunak said it would take “a bit of work” to get the state of public finances “to where they need to be”.

But he promised to strengthen the economy, secure lower interest rates and “get a grip” on rising inflation.

We can’t tackle the problem of growth without some tax cutsJohn Redwood

“Believe me, I’m going to do that for you this year, we’re going to do that while I’m prime minister and if we do those things, we can lower your taxes,” he added.

In Friday’s Daily Mail, former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith argued the country was “already over-taxed and it’s pretty clear we can’t tax ourselves out of a recession”.

Conservative backbencher Sir John Redwood added: “We can’t tackle the problem of growth without some tax cuts. They have to be affordable, of course – but the best way to reduce borrowing and increase revenue is to grow the economy.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt plans to present a spring budget in March but immediate tax cuts are seen as unlikely as the government tries to fight inflation.

Sir James, the founder and chief engineer of Singapore-based multinational tech company Dyson, has urged the government to use the budget to “spur private innovation and demonstrate its ambitions for growth”.

In an article in the Telegraph, he argued that ministers seemed intent on “taxing corporations on taxes, believing that punishing the private sector is free victory at the ballot box”.

“It’s as short-sighted as it is stupid. In the global economy, companies will simply choose to move jobs and invest elsewhere,” he said.

“Our country has an illustrious history of entrepreneurship and innovation born out of a culture we are in the process of erasing. We’ve weathered the worst of Covid but risk wasting the recovery.”

While visiting the North to promote his £2.1billion spending, Mr Sunak defended his strategy when asked about Sir James’ comments.

“Of course, the growth of the economy is really important. But what does that actually mean in practice…it means more jobs that pay well,” he said.

“It’s the easiest way for everyone here to think about it.”

Highlighting the “very generous” annual investment allowance, Mr Sunak added: “An investment worth £1million that you can write off your tax bill. No other country in the world does something like this.

“I’m very happy that James Dyson tells me when I’m wrong, but practically no other country in the world that I know does something like this for small and medium-sized businesses.”

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/youre-not-idiots-sunak-says-audience-knows-why-he-cannot-cut-taxes-42299524.html “You’re not idiots”: Sunak says audiences know why he can’t cut taxes

Linh

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