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UK’s Sunak to unveil tax-cutting manifesto

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is launching his Conservative party's general election manifesto
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is launching his Conservative party's general election manifesto - Copyright AFP Money SHARMA
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is launching his Conservative party's general election manifesto - Copyright AFP Money SHARMA
James PHEBY

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will promise voters “financial security” and tax cuts when he unveils his Conservative party manifesto on Tuesday, following a disastrous week that even led to rumours he might quit.

“We Conservatives have a plan to give you financial security,” he will say, according to extracts of his speech released in advance.

“We will enable working people to keep more of the money you earn because you have earned it and have the right to choose what to spend it on,” the speech added.

Polls have predicted for many months that Sunak will lead the Conservatives to a shuddering defeat to the main opposition Labour party in the July 4 general election.

His uphill battle was last week made even harder after right-wing populist firebrand Nigel Farage announced he was running to become an MP, and the prime minister drew universal criticism for leaving D-Day commemoration events early. 

When asked by journalists if rumours of him resigning were true, Sunak told broadcasters: “No, of course not. I’m energised about the vision that we’re putting forward for the country.”

He is now trying to get his campaign back on track by focusing on tax cuts.

“We know what Socialists always do — take more of your money,” Sunak was due to say on Tuesday.

Sunak has accused Labour, led by Keir Starmer, of wanting to increase the tax burden on households although the figures are in dispute.

The Tories are expected to pledge to abolish stamp duty up to the value of £425,000 ($540,000) for first-time home buyers, with reports suggesting they will also promise another two-pence cut to national insurance paid by employees and employers for state health, unemployment and pensions.

– ‘Panic attack’ –

“Owning a home makes people more financially secure, gives them a stake in society and, as (former prime minister) Mrs Thatcher said, is one of the main bulwarks of individual freedom,” Sunak wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“People should have the chance to buy their own home. It goes to the foundations of what we believe as Conservatives: we are the party of the property-owning democracy.”

Critics, however, point to record low levels of house building and high mortgage rates under the Tories, blamed on Sunak’s short-lived predecessor Liz Truss’s promise of unfunded tax cuts.

A shortage in supply has increased prices, including for renters already hit by cost-of-living pressures.

One of Sunak’s ministers, Mel Stride, told Sky News there would be a “very clear choice” between the Tory manifesto and Labour’s, which will be revealed on Thursday. 

“You’re going to see two very different manifestos. Ours, at its heart, is going to be cutting people’s tax and making sure that they have a secure financial future,” he told the broadcaster. 

But Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator, predicted the manifesto would be the “most expensive panic attack in history”.

With fewer than three weeks to go before the election, the polls still give Labour a lead of around 20 points over the Conservatives, with the anti-immigration Reform UK party, led by Farage, in third place.

The Conservatives, who have been in power for 14 years, are bearing the brunt of the difficulties caused by Brexit, the scandals of former prime minister Boris Johnson’s government and a cost-of-living crisis that has affected British people since 2022.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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