Jeremy Hunt guarantees new tax cuts as normal election battle strains drawn

Jeremy Hunt will dangle the prospect of further tax cuts as the Tories mount a last-ditch bid to woo voters.

In a speech in London on Friday, the Chancellor will promise that “taxes will go down under a Conservative government” and repeat his ambition to scrap National Insurance altogether. It comes as the overall tax burden was on course to reach a post Second World War high over the next five years, clobbering businesses and workers.

But Mr Hunt will argue the hikes were necessary to pay for the furlough scheme and the energy bill bailout. Accusing Labour of “playground politics” for pointing out these facts, he will say: “Conservatives recognise that whilst those tax rises may have been necessary, they should not be permanent. Labour do not.”

He will say that “the lower-taxed economies of North America and Asia generally grow faster than the higher-taxed economies of Europe”. The Conservative are “prepared to do the hard work” to bring down taxes “because we know doing so will lead to more growth”.

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Mr Hunt will stress that the Tories’ “ultimate aim” is to continue cutting National Insurance until it is eliminated – but only “when it is affordable to do so”.

Labour has branded the promise an unfunded £46 billion pledge and accused the Tories of failing to learn from Liz Truss’s mistakes, which saw her crash the economy with an unfunded tax-slashing bonanza. Keir Starmer previously challenged Rishi Sunak over whether axing National Insurance would come at the expense of health spending or pensions.

“With no plans to pay for their spending pledges, taxes will go up under any future Labour government as sure as night follows day,” Mr Hunt will claim. “And taxes will go down under a Conservative government because we will do the hard work necessary to keep our economy competitive.”