Gove Promises U.K. Tax Cuts as Pressure Grows on Johnson
Prominent cabinet minister Michael Gove promised tax cuts down the line as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under pressure from senior Tories to reduce the burden on ordinary Britons.
Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg and former Brexit chief David Frost have criticized Johnson’s approach to tax in recent days, with the former calling for the premier to scrap an upcoming increase in payroll taxes to fund the National Health Service. In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Frost said Johnson should return to a low-tax agenda.
“We’ve committed to the public spending required in order to generate economic growth,” Gove said in a BBC radio interview on Monday, when asked about the calls by prominent Conservatives to cut taxes. “And as we will in due course get that economic growth, we will also in due course cut taxes.”
The calls to slash taxes come amid a cost-of-living squeeze in the U.K., with matters set to come to a head in April when energy bills are due to rise sharply and the new health-care tax kicks in. Johnson on Monday blamed the crunch on global price spikes, while acknowledging “it’s making life very tough” for ordinary Britons.
“I understand how difficult it is, we’re certainly looking at what we can do,” Johnson told broadcasters in a pooled interview. “We’ve got to help people, particularly people on low incomes, with the cost of their fuel and that’s what we want to do.”
The problem for Johnson is that he has also pledged to “level up” Britain with promises of funding for infrastructure projects such as roads, railways and hospitals, all while faced with record peacetime levels of government debt due to emergency spending during the Covid-19 pandemic.
To pay for all that, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has put the U.K. tax burden on track to be the highest level since the 1950s. But like Gove, he’s said he wants to reduce taxes -- in time for the next general election, due in 2024 at the latest.
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