Sir Keir Starmer defends tax rises in manifesto, insisting it is a plan for growth

Sir Keir Starmer defends tax rises in manifesto, insisting it is a plan for growth
Georgia Pearce

By Georgia Pearce

Published: 13/06/2024

- 18:27

Sir Keir Starmer has insisted that Labour’s manifesto is a plan for growth.

In an interview with GB News’ Political Editor Christopher Hope, Mr Starmer also admitted he was furious at the way people had laughed during last night's leadership when he talked about his father.

Defending his party's plans for tax, Mr Starmer told GBNews: "We have been very clear that for working people, we are not going to increase their taxes.

“So that means we are not increasing Income Tax, National Insurance or VAT. And that is because I think the burden on working people is too high.

“The tax burden under this government is a 70-year high and that is why our plans are fully-costed, fully-funded. They do not involve tax rises over and above the ones that we've set out in relation to non-dom status and private equity loopholes, VAT on private schools and, of course, a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

“So they're the rises that we will put in place but we have not announced today anything over and above what we've pre-announced.

“None of the plans today in our manifesto for growth, for wealth creation requires us to raise other taxes.”

He added: “The Tories aren't cutting tax. They've raised it to the highest level for 70 years. They say they're going to cut tax, but they haven't told us how they're going to fund it. That’s the mistake that Liz truss made.

“Rishi Sunak was supposed to be the sort of guy who came and stabilised after Liz Truss and now he's repeating the mistake.”

Pressed further on possible tax rises when in government, Starmer responded: “The whole point of our manifesto is it’s a manifesto for growth, for wealth creation. Everything is fully-costed, fully-funded.

“This is the complete opposite of the Tory Party manifesto, I grant you that, but we've set out therefore what it will cost, what the funding is and as you go through it, as you have don, all you will see that there are no tax rises needed for the plans that we intend to put in place.

“I understand why all of the questions in this campaign so far have been about tax and spend. I reject the argument that that's the only way you can actually take our country forward.

“Our plan is for growth, for wealth creation, for the simple reason that if we had growth in the last 14 years under this government at the same rate as we did under the last Labour government, we'd have tens of billions of pounds for our public services without raising tax.”

Asked about his pledge to reduce net migration, Starmer refused to say what he wanted to reduce it to.

He said: “I want it to come down substantially. I'm not going to put an arbitrary figure on it. That's been done in pretty well every Conservative manifesto for the last few elections and the one thing that is common in those manifestos is the number has never been hit.

“So I'm not going to put an arbitrary figure. I'm going to say the numbers need to come down, they need to come down substantially. They're way higher now than they've been ever before.

“They need to come down, the way to bring them down is to make sure that the underlying drivers such as the skills crisis in the country is dealt with. So that's what we will do.”

Starmer also denied that by saying he wants the UK to be a leading nation in Europe again he is planning to re-jojn the EU by the back door.

He said: “It means a better deal than the botched deal we've got with the EU which isn't really working for anyone. So that's improved trading relations so that makes it easier to trade for our businesses. That will be very well received.

“I also want us to work more closely on research and development and education. And the other area that's very important is defence and security, which in light of what's happened in Ukraine is obviously a very pressing issue and I think that we can have a closer alignment there.”

He also admitted being angry at laughter from the audience during last night’s leadership debate when he said his father worked in a factory as a toolmaker.

He said: “My dad worked in a factory all his life. He felt people disrespected him. I do want to say this too, because it actually hit a nerve last night, because he felt that in the usual conversation, when someone says what do you do for a living socially, he would say work in a factory and there'd be a pause because nobody quite knew what to say.

“He felt really disrespected. It caused him and his wife to withdraw from social engagements. He didn't do it much later in life because it was wrong to him that he should be disrespected because he worked in a factory. So when someone laughed last night, I don't want him to turn in his grave.

“I don't know what caused someone to laugh. But if you're laughing at someone because they work in a factory, and that is the one thing that I think had a massive impact on someone like my dad, that disrespect, and it's in me, you can see I'm angry about it.

“Because I will never allow that sort of disrespect for working people to be any part of my plans, any part of the Britain that I want as the future. So I will proudly tell anybody who will listen that my dad worked in a factory.

“He was a toolmaker, a very good toolmaker. He loved his trade. And my mum was a nurse and she loved being a nurse and we didn't have a lot of money.

“I'm proud of what my parents did and yes, I don't like it when people laugh at my dad because he worked in a factory.”


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