Tories now seen as party of high taxes, poll shows in fresh blow to Boris Johnson


Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is pictured in 10 Downing Street on June 15 – Simon Dawson/No 10 Downing Street

More people now associate the Tories with being a party that raises taxes rather than one that lowers them, a new poll has found in a fresh blow to Boris Johnson.

Exclusive research for The Telegraph, conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, found 43 per cent of people now most associate the Tories with raising taxes and just 19 per cent with lowering taxes.

By contrast, some 29 per cent said they most associate Labour with lowering taxes, with 23 per cent linking Sir Keir Starmer’s party with tax rises.

The numbers are likely to prompt alarm bells in Conservative HQ because they suggest the Tories risk losing their traditional low-tax reputation.

Earlier this week Mr Johnson ruled out tax cuts until inflation is brought under control, much to the chagrin of Tory backbenchers after his promise to “devote all our energy to reducing… the tax bill”.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

03:26 PM

Cochrane’s Scotland: Running a remote island’s school just the ticket out of rail strikes

It was about 40 years ago that I missed what I now realise may have been the opportunity of a lifetime, writes Alan Cochrane.

I’d gone, with the now sadly departed John Downing – who would go on to become a world-famous war photographer – to write about life on Foula in Shetland, which is, alongside Fair Isle, one of Britain’s most remote and least inhabited bit of real estate.

We had flown in a tiny plane in which, because the weather was getting worse, we were told we’d have to fly out again within a few hours – a fact that didn’t give us much time at all. However, it was enough to work out that this was a magical place with a fascinating history.

And if you want to escape rail strikes? Or are anxious to avoid the resultant road congestion? Or can’t afford £100 to fill up your petrol tank? Or are fed up queuing in supermarkets for over-priced food? Then the solution is at hand. Foula is looking for a headteacher – indeed, its only teacher – for its school.

Read the full Cochrane’s Scotland column here

03:11 PM

Where is the Prime Minister?

The chairman of the Northern Research Group has said he does not know why Mr Johnson did not address Tory MPs and party members at an event in Doncaster earlier today.

Jake Berry, the MP for Rossendale and Darwen, said: “”When you have the Prime Minister of your country who is going to come and attend your conference, which is brilliant, and he’s a huge supporter and has been in touch to wish us all the best.

Jake Berry, the chairman of the Northern Research Group, did not shed any light on why Boris Johnson did not attend the group's inaugural conference - Jamie Lorriman

Jake Berry, the chairman of the Northern Research Group, did not shed any light on why Boris Johnson did not attend the group’s inaugural conference – Jamie Lorriman

“Occasionally things happen, which I understand will come out in the next hour about why he’s had to cancel the whole of his tour to the North of England today.”

It was 1pm when Mr Berry said the reason for the PM’s absence would be clarified “in the next hour”, although there is no word from Downing Street just yet.

02:55 PM

Transport inequality ‘must be confronted’

Improving transport in the north must be the “number one priority for levelling up,” the co-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on ‘Left Behind’ has said.

“The disparity between transport investment in the north compared to the south must be confronted if we are to truly equalise opportunities for everyone in the UK,” Paul Howell said as he appeared at today’s Northern Research Group conference of Tory MPs.

“Investing in the North East’s transport infrastructure has been something I’ve championed since becoming the MP for the Sedgefield constituency.

“Investing in our transport networks is the number one priority for levelling up our great country.”

02:35 PM

Lift congestion charge for motorists during rail strike, Sadiq Khan told

A government minister has urged Sadiq Khan to lift the congestion charge in London and stop non-essential roadworks during next week’s rail strikes.

Paul Scully, the business minister, also said the industrial action “risks people’s livelihoods” at a “fragile” time for personal finances. Speaking on LBC, he said:

If you’re going to strike you risk other businesses, other people’s livelihoods, but also the rail system up and down the country, including in London.

Because we are at a point where we are trying to get people back into work and it’s fragile – any excuse to stop people travelling really does affect the fare box and the financial viability of the rail service.

We don’t want to risk anybody’s job so please get around the table, it’s not helping anybody.

02:32 PM

Good afternoon

Dominic Penna here, taking you through the rest of this gloriously sunny afternoon in Westminster.

It seems Boris Johnson has more important matters on today after cancelling his by-election visit and Q&A session with Northern Tories.

Tony Diver, our Whitehall Correspondent, is told that all will be revealed shortly.

02:09 PM

PM cancels visits

Boris Johnson has cancelled a Wakefield by-election campaign visit and Q&A with Northern Tories today, writes Tony Diver, The Telegraph’s Whitehall Correspondent.

It sounds like the order came down from the top last night and people in CCHQ and No 10 are baffled.

Today had been marked out in the No 10 grid as “LEADERSHIP”.

02:00 PM

We underestimated inflation, admits Bank of England

A top Bank of England official has admitted that the central bank underestimated inflation, but insisted it wasn’t behind the curve in tackling the surge in prices.

Huw Pill, the Bank’s chief economist, said: “In the sense of the outcome of our forecasts, yes we have underestimated inflation.”

It comes after the Monetary Policy Committee increased its estimates for peak inflation to just above 11pc – the eighth time in a year it’s been forced to change its forecasts.

You can read the latest here.

01:58 PM

Poll: Has Lord Geidt’s resignation damaged PM?

01:12 PM

Fuel duty is most wanted tax cut

There is a clear frontrunner when it comes to the tax people would most like to see cut: Fuel duty.

A Redfield & Wilton Strategies poll for The Telegraph conducted on June 15 found 44 per cent of people said fuel duty is the tax they would most like to see reduced.

In second place was income tax with 19 per cent and in third place was VAT with 13 per cent.

12:55 PM

Poll: More people now view Tories as tax raising party

More people now associate the Tories with being a party that raises taxes rather than one that lowers them, a new poll has found in a fresh blow to Boris Johnson.

An exclusive survey for The Telegraph conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found that 43 per cent of people now most associate the Tories with raising taxes while 19 per cent most associate the Conservative Party with lowering taxes.

The poll also showed that more people now associate Labour with lowering taxes than raising them.

Some 29 per cent of respondents said they most associate Labour with lowering taxes while 23 per cent said they associate the party with raising taxes.

The numbers are likely to prompt alarm bells in Conservative HQ because they suggest the Tories are at risk of losing their reputation as the party of lower taxes.

12:37 PM

No 10 defends review of ethics adviser role

Downing Street was asked at lunchtime if Boris Johnson agreed with John Penrose who said this morning that it would be a “big mistake” to scrap the role of the PM’s ethics adviser following the resignation of Lord Geidt. (see the post below at 08.35).

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “The Prime Minister believes it is right to consider some of the issues that have been raised by both Lord Geidt and PACAC. It is right to consider those issues and reflect on them before taking a decision on how best to fulfil the PM’s commitment to ensure rigorous oversight of ministerial interests.”

12:32 PM

Government remains committed to income tax cut in 2024

Rishi Sunak announced in March this year that he intends to cut the basic rate of income tax by 1p in 2024.

There have been calls from some Tory MPs to bring that cut forward to help families struggling amid the cost-of-living crisis.

No 10 said at lunchtime that there are “no plans” to change the timetable.

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “You will remember that the Chancellor has set that out. There is no plans to change that but obviously taxation is a matter for the Chancellor and the Treasury.”

12:28 PM

No 10 welcomes chance for UK to host Eurovision

The UK is set to host Eurovision in 2023 after broadcast bosses ruled that previous winner Ukraine was unable to stage the next song contest, with the BBC in talks over organising the event (you can read the full story here).

No 10 has welcomed the prospect of the UK hosting the competition.

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “Ukraine’s victory in the Eurovision song contest was richly deserved and as the rightful winner the Government’s firm wish has been to see next year’s contest hoisted there.

“If the EBU decides that the competition can’t go ahead in Ukraine we would of course welcome the opportunity to work closely with Ukraine and the BBC to host it here in the UK.

“But we would be committed to ensuring it overwhelmingly reflects Ukraine’s rich culture, heritage and creativity as well as building on the ongoing partnership between our two countries.”

12:09 PM

‘We can’t intervene in negotiations’

Labour has repeatedly called for ministers to get involved in talks between the unions and train companies to avert the strikes.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said on Wednesday that Boris Johnson “could do something to stop the strikes, but he has not lifted a finger”.

Asked if ministers could intervene, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “As I have said, we are not the employer here and we can’t intervene in negotiations between rail companies and the unions.

“But ultimately what we would like to see is the unions call off their strikes, get back round the table with the rail companies.”

12:08 PM

No 10 rules out last-ditch bid to halt rail strikes

Downing Street has effectively ruled out a last-ditch intervention by ministers to halt disruptive rail strikes which are due to go ahead next week.

Strikes by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union on Network Rail and 13 train operators are set for June 21, 23 and 25 next week. There will also be a walkout on London Underground on the June 21.

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said the Government continues to “call on the unions to call them off” but said ministers will not be intervening.

He said: “Obviously ministers remain close to the ongoing situation with regard to what are live discussions.

“But as we have made clear, we are not the employers in this case and we can’t intervene in the negotiations between rail companies and the unions.

“But what we want to see is unions get back round the table with their employer and call off the strikes next week.”

11:24 AM

Ukraine takes step closer to joining the EU

Ukraine has taken a step closer towards joining the EU after the European Commission recommended it to be granted candidate status to join the bloc.

The boost to Ukraine’s hopes of membership is laden with meaning in a country that turned defiantly westwards during the 2013 Euromaidan protests that toppled its pro-Russian president.

It will be a blow for Vladimir Putin, whose illegal invasion was an attempt to force Ukraine back into Moscow’s sphere of influence.

EU leaders are expected to approve Ukraine’s candidate status at next week’s European Council summit but with strict conditions.

You can read the full story here.

11:19 AM

Julian Assange: Priti Patel signs US extradition order

The Home Secretary has signed an order to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, it was announced on Friday.

WikiLeaks called it a “dark day” for press freedom and British democracy.

You can read the full story here.

11:18 AM

Number of migrants crossing Channel passes 11,000

The number of people crossing the English Channel to reach the UK this year has now passed 11,000, the latest figures suggest.

Analysis of Ministry of Defence data shows 11,092 people have been brought to shore by Border Force or the RNLI after being rescued from small boats in the Channel.

It comes after 146 people on four small boats were brought to Britain yesterday. The daily number has been decreasing steadily throughout the week after a high of 444 on Tuesday. That was the highest number since 562 on April 14.

11:06 AM

Is being ‘boring’ a good or bad trait for a PM?

Among those people who said they agreed Sir Keir Starmer is “boring” (see the post below at 10.56), some 41 per cent said they believed it is a bad trait for a potential future prime minister.

Asked if being “boring” is a good or bad trait for a PM, some 29 per cent said bad and 12 per cent said very bad.

About one in five said it was a good or very good trait – nine per cent said very good and 12 per cent said good.

Some 37 per cent said it was neither good nor bad.

10:56 AM

Almost half of voters believe Sir Keir Starmer is ‘boring’

Reports earlier this week suggested Sir Keir Starmer had urged his shadow cabinet to stop telling journalists that he is “boring”.

An exclusive poll for The Telegraph has now found that 45 per cent of voters believe the Labour leader is “boring”.

Sir Keir Starmer addresses the House of Commons on Wednesday June 15 - UK Parliament/PA

Sir Keir Starmer addresses the House of Commons on Wednesday June 15 – UK Parliament/PA

The survey conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found 18 per cent said they strongly agreed he is “boring” while 27 per cent said they agreed.

Just four per cent strongly disagreed and 14 per cent said they disagreed. Just under a third – 28 per cent – said they neither agreed nor disagreed.

10:30 AM

One in five believe Rwanda plan is ‘too relaxed’

The nation is split on whether Boris Johnson’s Rwanda policy is too tough, with one in five people actually of the view that the “offshoring” plan is “too relaxed”.

An exclusive poll of 2,000 people for The Telegraph, conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, found almost one third of voters – 30 per cent – believe the approach is “about right”.

But 21 per cent said they believed it is “too relaxed” while 24 per cent said it is “too tough”.

A quarter of respondents were unsure.

10:21 AM

Poll: More people back Rwanda policy than oppose it

Just over four in 10 Britons – 42 per cent – support the Government’s Rwanda migrants policy, an exclusive poll for The Telegraph has found.

The survey, conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on June 15, found that 20 per cent of people strongly support the policy while 22 per cent support it.

The policy is strongly opposed by 17 per cent of people and opposed by 11 per cent of people – a total opposition of 28 per cent.

Some 16 per cent of respondents said they neither supported nor opposed the policy.

10:10 AM

Prospect of scrapping ethics adviser role is ‘shocking’

The prospect of Downing Street potentially scrapping the role of ethics adviser to the PM is “shocking”, according to Sir Ed Davey.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats said the independent adviser on ministers’ interests should be made totally independent because upholding the ministerial code is “really critical”. The adviser is currently appointed by the PM and the PM has final say on matters relating to the code.

Sir Ed told Times Radio: “The idea that the Government isn’t going to reappoint an ethics adviser to oversee the ministerial code, I think it’s quite shocking.”

10:04 AM

PM is not ‘like most Conservatives’

Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has claimed Boris Johnson is not “like most Conservatives”.

He told Times Radio: “I don’t think the Prime Minister is like most Conservatives, actually. I think most Conservatives try to do the right thing, the decent thing, this Prime Minister never has.

“I’m just shocked that Tory MPs A. put him there in the first place and B. allow him to continue when the evidence is overwhelming.”

09:55 AM

Sir Ed Davey: Families facing a ‘cocktail of problems’

Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has warned families are facing a “cocktail of problems” as he repeated his calls for immediate tax cuts.

He told Times Radio: “It means a tax cut for people who are struggling. We’ve argued for an emergency cut in VAT of 2.5 per cent, that would deliver for the average household £600 in VAT tax cut.

“That’s needed, because people are struggling with rising food prices, petrol prices, interest rates. I mean, it’s a real cocktail of problems for families at the moment.”

Sir Ed said the Government’s help on the cost of living so far has been “poor” and not of the “right order”.

09:28 AM

Northern Ireland border row could take a ‘decade’ to resolve

David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, has warned it may take a decade to resolve the Northern Ireland border row between the UK and the EU.

Mr Davis told Politico that some Brexit benefits had not materialised because of disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis.

He said: “It’s largely recoverable. I mean, Ireland’s going to take a long time. It’s going to take a decade to get right, I think… maybe I’m wrong about a decade, but it’s going to take years.”

09:10 AM

‘There won’t be tax cuts now’

Paul Scully, the business minister, has categorically ruled out imminent personal tax cuts.

He told Sky News: “What I don’t want to do is write a Budget months ahead of a Budget. There won’t be tax cuts now because as I say any taxes are dealt with at a Budget in the autumn.

“There is so much to go until we get to the autumn and things can change in a number of ways.”

09:05 AM

‘We are not going to be able to save every business’

The Bank of England warned yesterday that inflation will climb to 11 per cent this year while Rishi Sunak indicated that he will not cut personal taxes until spiralling prices are brought under control (you can read the full story here).

The increasingly grim economic picture has prompted renewed scrutiny of what the Government is doing to help take the sting out of the cost-of-living crisis.

Paul Scully, the business minister, said the Government “can’t solve every problem” but will do “everything we can” to help people.

He told Sky News: “In terms of existing householders and people’s everyday bills, the Chancellor will look and respond accordingly.

“What we can’t do, he has already said, he’s absolutely right, the Government can’t solve every problem within this. We are not going to be able to save every business and work with everybody’s individual costs but we will do everything we can within the remit of keeping public finances tight as well.”

08:53 AM

MPs ‘should not have say’ on next ethics adviser

The Liberal Democrats have called for Parliament to be given a say on the appointment of the PM’s next independent adviser on ministers’ interests (if there is one).

Paul Scully, the business minister, rejected the idea this morning as he suggested Parliament should not be involved in the “day to day running” of the Government.

He told Sky News: “I think it is difficult because you then get into positions where government governs and parliament scrutinises that.

“Parliament will undoubtedly continue to debate this matter but I am not sure that that day to day running, the Government is beholden to Parliament in that sort of balance of power as it were. In our unwritten constitution I am not sure that is how it works.”

08:48 AM

Minister unsure if Lord Geidt will be replaced

Paul Scully, the business minister, was asked if there will be another ethics adviser appointed following the resignation of Lord Geidt.

He told Sky News: “That I don’t know. There is a number of questions that Lord Geidt has raised about the way that that system works and that is right that No 10 actually takes time to look at that and work that through. That will be for them to announce.”

Asked if anyone would actually want the job, Mr Scully said: “As I say, I think that is part of the consideration is how the system works.”

08:43 AM

Minister insists PM upholds ‘highest standards of his office’

Paul Scully, the business minister, is on the morning media round for the Government.

He was asked if he could say that he believes Boris Johnson upholds the “highest standards required of his office”.

He told Sky News: “Yeah, I can. I think he has been clear in his approach regarding the fine that he received.

“I think Lord Geidt seemed to have resigned on the discussion around when the Prime Minister asked him for advice for supporting our industries in the next few months.”

08:37 AM

Labour: PM ‘doesn’t have a moral backbone’

Emily Thornberry, the shadow attorney general, has claimed Boris Johnson “doesn’t have a moral backbone”.

Ms Thornberry was asked during an interview on LBC Radio if she believes voters care about Lord Geidt’s resignation.

She said: “I think people care that they have a Prime Minister who is dishonest and who is happy to break the rules and who doesn’t have a moral backbone, just doesn’t, and keeps losing ethics advisers because he is not ethical. I think that matters.”

She added: “What is important is that we have a Prime Minister who doesn’t seem to think that the rules apply to him and they do.”

08:36 AM

PM is ‘overdrawn’ with voters and MPs

John Penrose, the Government’s former anti-corruption tsar, said Boris Johnson is currently “overdrawn” with voters and MPs.

The senior Tory MP said the “parameters” of the role of independent adviser on ministers’ interests could be changed but the role itself should remain.

He told the BBC: “So by all means change the parameters but I don’t think you can weaken it, particularly at the moment.

“I just think the Prime Minister is currently overdrawn, if I can put it that way, on his account with both the voters and with the Parliamentary party.

“They need to show that they are serious about this. This is part of the reset, I would argue, which the Prime Minister has rightly said he wants to do after last week’s vote of no confidence, good for him. This would be a good way of being part of that then moving it forward.”

08:35 AM

Scrapping ethics adviser role would be ‘big mistake’

Downing Street said yesterday that the role of ethics adviser could be scrapped following the resignation of Lord Geidt.

John Penrose, the Government’s former anti-corruption tsar, said this morning the PM would be making a “big mistake” if he does abolish the role.

He told the BBC: “Well, I think that that would be potentially quite a big mistake. The point here is that you can obviously, and if they felt it was sensibly it might be useful to look at it, you can obviously change the role a bit but you shouldn’t be weakening the role if you are going to come up with a revised version as a successor to Lord Geidt, some new format, some new way of dealing with the issue.”

08:34 AM

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today’s politics live blog.

Downing Street is facing a backlash after it said yesterday that the role of the PM’s ethics adviser could be scrapped following Lord Geidt’s resignation.

Tory MPs have warned against the move and No 10 is under pressure to appoint a replacement as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, ministers are also facing calls to do more to help tackle the cost-of-living crisis amid growing fears the UK is heading for a recession.

There is lots going on in Westminster this morning and I will guide you through the key developments.



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