Boris Johnson risks clash with Matt Hancock as he vows review of 'sin taxes' on unhealthy food

Posted On: 
3rd July 2019

Boris Johnson has vowed to end "the continuing creep of the nanny state” if he becomes Prime Minister by threatening to axe taxes on unhealthy food.

Mr Johnson argued that the Government's sugar levy acts to "clobber those who can least afford it".
Credit: 
PA

The Conservative leadership frontrunner argued that levies on sugary and salty products "clobber those who can least afford it", as he pledged to look at whether they "actually change behaviour".

But the move could put Mr Johnson at odds with campaign ally Matt Hancock, the current Health Secretary, who is backing Mr Johnson after his own bid to become leader ran aground.

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Mr Hancock has already asked chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies to look at whether taxes should be levied on all unhealthy foods to try and combat child obesity.

The move would go further than the current tax on sugary soft drinks, brought in last year.

The Government is already considering extending that levy to "sugary milk drinks" if firms do not reformulate their recipes to cut the amount of sugar in them.

But Mr Johnson said: "The recent proposal for a tax on milkshakes seems to me to clobber those who can least afford it.

"If we want people to lose weight and live healthier lifestyles, we should encourage people to walk, cycle and generally do more exercise.

"Rather than just taxing people more, we should look at how effective the so-called 'sin taxes' really are, and if they actually change behaviour."

He added: "Once we leave the EU on October 31, we will have a historic opportunity to change the way politics is done in this country.

"A good way to start would be basing tax policy on clear evidence."

A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care - led by Mr Hancock - said: "Our policies on obesity and public health have always been guided by evidence and will continue to be in the future."

According to The Telegraph, Mr Johnson is not considering making any changes to duty on alcohol or cigarettes if he wins the Conservative race.