Dominic Raab blasts rival Boris Johnson over tax cut plan for higher earners

Posted On: 
10th June 2019

Dominic Raab has laid into his Conservative leadership rival Boris Johnson over his plan to slash taxes for people earning more than £50,000.

Dominic Raab took aim at Boris Johnson.
Credit: 
PA

The ex-Brexit Secretary said the pledge by his fellow Brexiteer would feed into the "caricature" that the Tories were "the party of privilege" as he talked up his own plan to raise the tax threshold for lower earners.

The attack came as fellow candidate Andrea Leadsom warned Mr Johnson that the tax overhaul would fail to get through the Commons even if the current frontrunner succeeds in seizing the Tory crown.

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Mr Johnson had told The Telegraph that he would increase the threshold at which workers start paying the 40p rate from £50,000 to £80,000 - a move set to cost around £9.6bn a year.

The former Foreign Secretary said he would find the cash from a contingency fund set aside by the Treasury to pay for the impact of a no-deal Brexit as he vowed to "help the huge numbers that have been captured in the higher rate by fiscal drag".

But, speaking at his own campaign launch in Westminster on Monday, Mr Raab said it was "a time for change".

And he said: "Talking about a fairer economy - my tax cuts are for the very poorest in work....

"And aside from the vision, think about what it's going to be like for the next Prime Minister going into those Labour marginal seats.

"I'd much rather be going there saying that I'm going to cut the taxes of the lowest paid in work than succumbing to what will inevitably, whoever is the Prime Minister, [be] the caricature... that you're the party of privilege and you're only in it to help the wealthy.

He added: "I don't think anyone will be able to say that about me given my plan and given my background."

Mr Raab has already vowed to cut the basic rate of income tax by a penny every year if he wins the race to succeed Theresa May.

The basic rate of income tax is paid by those earning from £12,501 to £50,000, and cutting it by a penny a year would see the rate fall from 20p in every pound earned to just 15p over the course of a Parliament.

Mr Raab's intervention came just hours after ex-Commons leader Ms Leadsom said the Parliamentary arithmetic would make it "impossible" for Mr Johnson to turn his tax plan into law.

"I think it is obviously always quite tempting to put out really good, eye-catching policies and I am certainly a low tax Conservative - I want to see people  getting to keep more of their hard earned income," she told the BBC's Today programme.

"But the reality is, having been leader of the Commons for the past two years, there is a raft of seocndary legislation that is sitting in abeyance because we don't have the Parliamentary numbers to get any legislation through - even quite modest changes in costs for things, charges for things.

"So I think in reality in this Parliament it would be impossible to actually get wholescale tax changes through."

Speaking at his own Tory leadership campaign launch, Matt Hancock said he wanted to cut taxes for all rather than target any reductions at the better-off.

Labour also seized on Mr Johnson's tax pledge, with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell saying it would only "add to the handouts the Government has already given the richest in society".

The Opposition frontbencher fumed: "With our schools, care for the elderly and our police services at breaking point, Boris Johnson’s proposals to give a tax cut to high earners reveals how out of touch the Tories are.

"As predicted the Tory leadership contest is becoming a race to the bottom in tax cuts."