Fraser Nelson

Hammond puts his foot in it

Hammond puts his foot in it
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Philip Hammond, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has just finished a pre-Budget lobby briefing, which I suspect will end in some troublesome headlines for him tomorrow for two reasons. 

First, non doms. Hammond asks us to believe that the Tory non-dom tax would scare away fewer millionaires than Labour’s policy. But the Tory figures claim they’d sting non-doms for £2.8bn, four times what Labour hope to sting the non doms for (Labour will only tax those who have been here for seven years). Hammond says the non-doms prefer certainty. Presumably for newly-arrived non doms that means the certainty of getting stung for £25k under the Tories versus the certainty of not getting stung until 2015 under Labour.

Next, tax. Hammond sat next to a huge chart showing up government debt is over 40% of GDP when one factors in Northern Rock (which he says it should). It begged an obvious problem. If the Tories want to rectify this, they can forget about any tax cuts. Especially as they are also pledged to outspend Labour on public services. So isn’t it the case, Hammond was asked, that a Tory government could well finish an economic cycle without lowering any tax at all as it would have so much debt to repay? Hammond would not give a firm answer. Bingo. So in addition to the Tory pledge for no up-front tax cuts, there is also no promise to cut taxes in office either. Hammond says the Tories are, instinctively, a tax-cutting party. A promise which I suspect few voters would bank on.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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