Coronavirus: no ‘horror show’ of tax hikes, Rishi Sunak tells conservative MPs

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PA Media

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Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson meet with newly elected Tory MPs in Downing Street


Chancellor Rishi Sunak reassured newly elected Tory MPs that there will be no “horror show of endless tax hikes in sight” as the government deals with the costs of the coronavirus.

He urged the 2019 Tories to show confidence in overcoming the “short-term challenges” the party faces.

Some MPs have expressed fears that the U-turns could damage the government’s reputation.

Mr Sunak accidentally revealed the wording of his statement while keeping his notes outside 11 Downing Street.

The Conservative Party, which won an 80-seat majority in the December general election, has seen its opinion poll dominate Labor in recent weeks.

This has raised concerns among some MPs who have won seats in traditional Labor homes in the Midlands and northern England, formerly known as the ‘red wall’.

An unnamed Conservative “red wall” told the Press Association that MPs from those regions, and others in marginal seats, were “nervous” after a series of U-turns on topics such as exam results, the wearing of face masks and the financing of school meals. They described the situation as a “mega-disaster”.

And Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the 1922 Conservative MPs Committee, warned against “clean goals”, saying: “We can have a large majority, but that still doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. be as competent as possible as a government. ”

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PoliticalPics / Steve Back

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Photographer used words from Rishi Sunak’s statement


It was reported over the weekend that substantial corporate tax increases and capital gains tax changes are being considered by the Treasury to meet the huge costs of the coronavirus. But the government dismissed this as “speculation”.

The wording of Mr Sunak’s statement, read at a meeting in Parliament on Wednesday with Tory MPs first elected in 2019, which the PM also attended, was revealed when a photographer noticed that the Chancellor was holding a screenplay sheet as he left 11 Downing Street.

It read: “We will have to do difficult things, but I promise you that if we trust each other, we will be able to overcome short-term challenges. ”

Referring to reports that there could be tax increases to pay for costs incurred during the pandemic, including the leave program, he added: “Now that doesn’t mean a horror of tax hikes without end in sight. “

‘More turbulent waters’

He continued: ‘But that means treating the British with respect, being honest with them about the challenges we face and showing them how we plan to correct our public finances and give our country the vibrant, low-rate economy. tax that we all want. see. ”

Government sources denied that revealing the chancellor’s words in this manner was “embarrassing”, adding that they would have become a matter of public knowledge anyway.

Discussing the coronavirus crisis, Boris Johnson told MPs: “I know it has been difficult. I have to warn you, it’s about to get more difficult. The waters are about to get more choppy. But we will face it. ”

The Prime Minister is currently facing a meeting of all backbench Tory MPs, the 1922 committee meeting for the first time since Parliament’s summer recess.

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