Boris Johnson sets out levelling up agenda in speech
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Lord David Young, a former Cabinet Minister under Mrs Thatcher, has questioned claims made by the Prime Minister that the Iron Lady would have supported his plans to increase taxes for millions of Britons. Mr Johnson’s Government is pressing ahead to increase the tax burden to its highest rate since World War Two in the wake of national debt soaring above £2trillion.
Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester on Wednesday, the Prime Minister claimed Mrs Thatcher would have turned off the spending taps now to prevent tax rises down the line.
Lord Young said Mrs Thatcher may well have agreed but insists she would have exhausted every avenue possible to limit spending across the Government.
He added Mrs Thatcher knew increasing taxes could “spell the death knell for our recovery and the economy”.
He said: “In his speech at the Conservative Party conference, Boris Johnson invoked the name of Margaret Thatcher in support of his decision to increase taxes to fund extra spending on health.
“She would have said, he went on, that increased borrowing today would mean higher interest rates and higher taxes tomorrow.
“With respect, Prime Minister, she might well have said that, and she might well have felt the need to prop up the NHS, but not without looking for corresponding savings elsewhere because she knew that higher taxes and higher overall spending spell the death knell for our recovery and the economy.”
Lord Young claimed Mrs Thatcher would have gone through all spending plans with a “fine tooth-comb” and claimed she might have even deemed projects such as the High Speed Two (HS2) rail line as “irrelevant”.
The 89-year-old added the first female Prime Minister would have demanded all Government departments conduct “rigorous cost-cutting”, as well as the NHS.
Mr Johnson has reiterated his desire for a high-skilled and high-wage economy, but Lord Young insisted for this to be achieved taxes needed to be reduced.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Young said: “The one thing Margaret knew was that any spending had to be earned.
“If you want a high wage economy you need prosperous and successful companies, from the top of the stock exchange down to the corner shop.
“If you want prosperous companies, you encourage them by reducing taxation, not by increasing it. “
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A new Health and Social Care Tax will be introduced in April 2022 and will increase National Insurance contributions by 1.25 percent.
The Treasury forecasts this will raise £12billion per year.
Corporation tax will also rise from 19 percent to 25 percent and income tax thresholds have been frozen for millions of working Britons.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also refused to rule out further tax rises.
In August, public sector net debt reached £2.2trillion and almost exceeds the size of the UK economy, with debt having reached 97.6 percent of GDP.
Speaking at the conference, Mr Johnson said: “We have a huge hole in the public finances, we spent £407 billion on Covid support and our debt now stands at over £2 trillion, and waiting lists will almost certainly go up before they come down.
“Covid pushed out the great bow wave of cases and people did not or could not seek help, and that wave is now coming back – a tide of anxiety washing into every A&E and every GP.
“Your hip replacement, your mother’s surgery … and this is the priority of the British people.”
He added: “I can tell you – Margaret Thatcher would not have ignored the meteorite that has just crashed through the public finances.
“She would have wagged her finger and said: ‘More borrowing now is just higher interest rates, and even higher taxes later.”
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