Tory manifesto will probably be ‘most costly panic assault in historical past’, Labour warns

Rishi Sunak’s sums don’t add up, Labour has warned – as Tories were accused of cooking up “imaginary” savings to fund manifesto pledges.

The under-fire PM is set to publish “the most expensive panic attack in history” in a desperate attempt to mislead voters, it is claimed. In a pre-emptive attack on the Tory election promises, Shadow Paymaster General Jonathan Ashworth branded the Tory spending plans a “fraud on the electorate” and filled withunfunded commitment after unfunded commitment”.

He rubbished Tory claims that billions of pounds can be saved through a draconian welfare shake-up. He also said the PM’s controversial National Service plan will cost twice what Mr Sunak says it will. The Conservatives are set to publish their manifesto on Tuesday.

Struggling Mr Sunak was earlier forced to deny suggestions he had considered resigning before the election as anger mounts over his D-Day snub. He was heavily criticised after skipping a world leaders’ event in Normandy to mark 80 years since the heroic World War Two mission last Thursday.

The PM told reporters in Horsham, Sussex: “I just hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me.” And he went on: “There are lots of people who want to write me off, write this off, say this campaign or the election is a foregone conclusion. The reality is I’m not going to stop going, I’m not going to stop fighting for people’s votes, I’m not going to stop fighting for the future of our country.”

Labour's Jonathan Ashworth said the money isn't there to fund Tory pledges

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth said the money isn’t there to fund Tory pledges

It came as Mr Ashworth warned the Conservatives will not deliver on a promise to rake in £12billion through welfare reform and £6billion by cracking down on tax avoidance. Mr Ashworth told an event in Westminster: “If they claim that they have £12billion of welfare savings to spend elsewhere, that is a flagrant lie. It must be understood and called out.”

Mr Ashworth went on: “The Tories sums do not add up. The money is simply not there.” Labour analysis suggests Government welfare shake-ups, announced with a lot of fanfare in April, will deliver zero savings.

Mr Ashworth said changes to Work Capability Assessments and reform of fit notes won’t save the Treasury any money. And the Labour frontbencher added that the Government has failed to put forward concrete plans to reform Personal Independence Payments (PIPs), meaning there is no plan for savings.

He said: “Tory tax and spending plans are a fraud on the electorate. When they make more desperate promises, funded by £12billion of imaginary welfare savings or £6billion of inflated and already spent the tax avoidance savings… that is alarming.”

Mr Ashworth also questioned Mr Sunak’s claim that the National Insurance plan would cost £2.5billion – claiming Labour analysis found it would cost double that. Under the PM’s plan 30,000 18 year olds would join the Armed Forces for a year and 745,000 others would carry out compulsory community service.

“Based on data from the Ministry of Defence itself and analysis from defence experts, it is clear that it would cost at least double that amount,” he said. Mr Ashworth said Labour number-crunchers had “struggled in vain” to work out how Mr Sunak reached the costings.

He said that the cost of sending 30,000 teenagers on a 14-week training course alone would cost £1.5billion. The expensive project would eat up any cash the Tories would plough into delivering its promises to deliver new towns and reform child benefits and age related tax allowance.

Mr Ashworth denied that the Labour manifesto would be cautious – pointing planning law reform that he said will spark a housebuilding drive. He added that free breakfast clubs in primary schools, 100,000 more childcare places and 40,000 more NHS appointments a week.

He said: “I don’t think any of that is cautious. I think is caution, I think that is a transformation of Britain from where we are today after 14 years of the Conservatives, and every one of those policies I just outlined is going to be fully costed. We explain where that money is coming from, in contrast to the Tories.”

Pressed on Labour tax plans, he said: “Under a Labour government, there will be no increase in income tax, no increase in national insurance, no increase in VAT. Nothing in our plans requires additional tax to be raised.”

But he did not rule out an increase in capital gains tax.

In response a Tory spokesman said: “In a panicked press conference which has completely backfired, a clearly irate and rattled Jon Ashworth just announced Labour are not ruling out raising a plethora of taxes on working people and jobs. That’s on top of the other taxes on people’s homes and people’s pensions Labour have failed to rule out.”.