Boris Johnson: Brexit to fix 'broken' UK economy model
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The cabinet minister told a fringe event at the Conservative’s annual conference the Tories were “absolutely” still the party of low taxation. He said Britons were being taxed at the highest level since World War Two and any further increases would be nationally damaging.
His comments came after the Prime Minister would only commit to not hiking taxes again “if I can possibly avoid it”.
Speaking at an event organised by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, Mr Rees-Mogg said his party must continue to aim for lower taxation.
“We must always be looking to make sure the money is spent efficiently and the tax burden is reasonable and we are in the upper reaches on this,” he said.
“Why on earth would you think higher rates in the 2020s would have a greater effect than they did in the 1960s and the 1970s.
“I think we are about at the limit of what taxation can raise.”
He added: “I think individuals spend their money better than the Government spends their money for them and therefore the Government should spend less, the British people should keep more of their own money for themselves.”
However, he defended tax increases already imposed by Rishi Sunak saying it was important to ensure that “in the end the books balance” after record spending to keep the economy afloat during the pandemic.
The North East Somerset MP said: “The Conservative Party has always had a tension within it between sound money and low taxation.
“We have always believed that in the end the books balance and we recognise that borrowing is merely tax deferred and therefore if you borrow endlessly, someone will have to pay for it in the end.
“On the other hand as a nation we have to live within our means and that means tax, which is now about the highest level it has been since the war on the forecast of percentage tax of GDP.”
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning, the Prime minister said “there was “no fiercer and more zealous opponent of unnecessary tax rises” than him, but he had been left with no choice due to the coronavirus crisis.
“We have had to deal with a pandemic on a scale which this country has not seen before in our lifetimes and long before,” he said.
“If I can possibly avoid it, I do not want to raise taxes again, of course not, nor does Rishi Sunak.”
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Suggesting Margaret Thatcher would agree with his approach, he said: “Margaret Thatcher would not have borrowed more money now, I’ll tell you that much for free.
In further backlash at the current tax rate the chairman of the influential 1922 committee of back bench Tory MPs, Sir Graham Brady, said there was a need to set out a plan to decrease the tax burden.
He told Conservative members in Manchester: “One of the difficulties we have faced this year of course is that whilst Conservatives don’t like raising taxes, nor do Conservatives like constantly borrowing more and more money and leaving future generations to pay it back either.”
He added: “I think a certain fiscal adjustment recognising the consequence of what has gone on over the last year-and-a-half is understandable.
“The question I guess is how do we turn that around and make sure there is a clear and plausible message for the next general election.
“And if we want to go into the next general election with a credible reputation as the party that believes in the lowest taxes that can possibly be achieved in the circumstances, then we can’t, to quote Lynton Crosby, you can’t fatten a cow or a pig on market day.
“You’ve got to start sooner than that.
“You’ve got to set out something well before, that is, how we intend to achieve that lower tax future again, and work to try and make people believe it.”
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