Boris Johnson performs corporation tax U-turn to free up extra cash for NHS
Boris Johnson has abandoned plans for a further cut to corporation tax in a bid to raise more cash for the NHS.
The Prime Minister told business leaders that the major U-turn would save the Treasury £6bn, which could be spent on “the priorities of the British people”.
Mr Johnson had promised to bring the rate businesses pay on their profits down from 19% to 17%, when he ran to be Tory leader in the summer.
But addressing the CBI annual conference, he said: “We proudly back business across this country, because we understand that it is they - you - who are creating the wealth that actually pays for the NHS.
“And by the way because the NHS is the nation’s priority and our priority and because we believe emphatically in fiscal prudence I hope you won’t mind if I also announced today that we are postponing further cuts in corporation tax and before you storm the stage and protest, let me remind you that this saves £6bn that we can put into the priorities of the British people, including the NHS.
“We’ve already cut it from 28% to 19%, the lowest of any major economy and the alternative is Jeremy Corbyn who would whack it up to the highest levels in Europe and that is the key difference between this country and the Labour party.”
Elsewhere the PM said he was "categorical" that Sajid Javid would stay on as Chancellor if the Tories win the election, adding that his colleague was a “great guy” who was doing a “fantastic job”.
And he laid out promises to cut business rates and employers' National Insurance contributions, while introducing tax breaks to encourage more construction and research and development.
Mr Johnson also pitched himself as the candidate who “can get Brexit done”, while accepting that businesses and their organisations had been broadly opposed to leaving the EU.
“Let’s not beat around the bush, big business didn’t want Brexit. You made that clear in 2016 and this body said it louder than any other," he said.
“But what is also clear is that what you want now - and have wanted for some time - is certainty. So that you can plan and invest, so you can grow and expand, so that you can create jobs and drive prosperity.
“Whilst you didn’t want it, the people did vote for it. And so it was for politicians to deliver it."
He added: "With a Conservative majority government you can be sure we will get Brexit done and leave with the new deal that is already agreed – ending the uncertainty and confusion that has paralysed our economy."
CORBYN 'NOT ANTI-BUSINESS'
Meanwhile Mr Corbyn, who spoke after Mr Johnson, distanced himself from claims that he was “anti-business”.
He added: "That is complete nonsense. It’s not anti-business to be against poverty pay. It’s not anti-business to say the largest corporations should pay their taxes just as smaller companies do.
"It’s not anti-business to want prosperity in every part of our country and not only the City of London.
"And I say this to business too: if a Labour government is elected on 12th December you’re going to see more investment than you ever dreamt of…
He added: "And yes, let’s be frank, Labour will ask those at the top to pay their fair share in tax. We will put an end to the tax tricks that allow the wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations to avoid paying their way. And we will bring some key services into public ownership. I make no apology for that."
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell later said of Mr Johnson’s announcement on corporation tax: "It cannot compensate for the lives that have been lost and will not repair the damage done to our communities to pay for the Conservatives’ handouts to big business since 2010.
"The Government’s own figures show that billions have been lost to the public purse, which has had real consequences across the country.
"This pale attempt to mask the Conservatives' history of handing out tax giveaways to big business shows they are in chaos, but when the election is over we know they’ll soon revert to type."
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“Boris Johnson’s U-Turn on corporation tax was one of the more eye-catching moments from a fascinating CBI keynote session, but it was needed to make way for what are some large Conservative spending plans should they win this General Election.
"They are an astonishing 1/25 (96.15%) to win the most seats and 2/5 (71.43%) for a majority in December and if that’s the case then they’ll need to have space for their spending pledges.
"The NHS was front and centre of that announcement, but it had to be – last week’s stats were dreadful for the Tories and we might not be far away from another winter health crisis before polling day.”
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