Ex-Tory leader assists Sunaks leadership bid by claiming Thatcher would not cut taxes now
Boris Johnson: Former Thatcher adviser slams Tory infighting
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Ex-Foreign Secretary William Hague, who served as Conservative Party leader from 1997 to 2001, suggested the Iron Lady would not have made “dramatic” tax-cutting pledges at this present time. His comments come just days after Boris Johnson announced he would resign as Prime Minister and Tory Party leader pending a leadership contest.
Candidates vying to succeed Mr Johnson have made a plethora of pledges to cut taxes in a bid to reduce the burden on British families amid a cost of living crisis.
However, ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak has suggested tax cuts will not be introduced until later and the Government should not lull voters about the economic difficulties ahead by giving them “comforting fairy tales”.
In contrast, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss vowed to axe the National Insurance increase and cut taxes “from day one” to help alleviate the pressures of the cost of living crisis.
Former Health Secretaries Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt went as far as to pledge to bring corporation tax down to 15 percent, in a move which would reverse Mr Sunak’s scheduled rise from 19 to 25 percent.
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Mr Hague, who preceded Mr Sunak as the MP for Richmond in Yorkshire, wrote in the Times about why Margaret Thatcher would not have sided with the majority of candidates in the ongoing leadership contest.
He said: “Would-be Prime Ministers are falling over each other to promise tax cuts. Cuts on ‘day one’, cuts that add up to nearly £40billion in some cases; all meant to be a blueprint for growth and as a reassurance of being an authentic Tory.
“These dramatic pledges, however, made with either no or unspecified commitments to curb spending, are at variance with how the most successful Tory Governments have approached taxation.
“They are hostages to fortune that would reduce the flexibility needed to respond to events yet unknown.
“They suggest a misunderstanding of the drivers of economic growth.
“And they might well undermine, not confirm, the priceless reputation of the Conservative Party for disciplined economic management.”
Mr Hague added: “Margaret Thatcher is invoked daily as the example of how Tories deliver growth through lower taxes.
“She and her chancellors did indeed reshape the tax system to incentivise enterprise.
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“But they did so while insistently defending a position of fiscal strength. Observers were shocked when the 1981 budget, in a deep recession, delivered sharp tax rises and held down personal tax allowances despite high inflation.
“The biggest tax cuts came much later, in 1988, when the overall budget was in surplus and debt was being repaid.”
Mrs Thatcher notably increased VAT from just eight percent to 15 percent less than a year after the Conservative Party emerged victorious in the 1979 general election.
However, in what may be considered support of Mr Sunak, Hague concluded: “A slew of tax promises should not be the dividing line in this leadership election.
“But if that is the line, Sunak is standing on the right side of it.”
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