General election 2017: May says Tories would not raise VAT

Media captionThe Conservatives have “absolutely no plans” to increase tax, the prime minister says

Theresa May says a Conservative government will not raise VAT if she wins the general election.

But the PM declined to back a 2015 Tory pledge that also ruled out rises in income tax and National Insurance.

Mrs May said she would not be making “specific proposals” on taxes unless she is “absolutely sure” they can be delivered.

Labour said the Tories had previously increased VAT having promised not to do so.

Asked whether she would be repeating ex-PM David Cameron’s “five-year tax lock”, covering income tax, National Insurance and VAT until 2020, Mrs May told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We have absolutely no plans to increase the level of tax.

“But I’m also very clear that I do not want to make specific proposals on taxes unless I am absolutely sure that I can deliver on those.”

Speaking later on the Peston on Sunday show, she added: “We have no plans to raise the level of tax.

“In relation to specific taxes, we won’t be increasing VAT.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told the Peston show there would be no increases in income tax for “low and middle earners” under Labour, with details to be set out in his party’s manifesto.

“The only increases will be on that higher percentage,” he said, adding that Labour’s manifesto would be fully costed.

Labour is also unveiling a “20-point plan” to tackle what it calls the “rigged economy”, including increasing the minimum wage, banning zero hours contracts and ending the public sector pay freeze.

Pension questions

On the Marr show, Mrs May suggested the “triple lock” protecting the state pension could be changed, saying state pensions would continue to rise, with the exact method of calculations to be revealed in the Tories’ manifesto.

The triple lock ensures the state pension increases in line with wages, inflation or by 2.5% – whichever is highest.

She was asked about reports NHS nurses have been forced to use food banks, saying there were “many complex reasons” why people used the facilities and that a strong economy will lead to “secure jobs”.

And she rejected claims she was “in a different galaxy” to the rest of the EU on Brexit negotiations, repeating her view that no deal would be better than a bad one.

Media captionLib Dem leader Tim Farron: “The prime minister is heading for a colossal coronation on 8 June”

After the 27 EU leaders agreed their Brexit negotiations, the PM said there was “good will” on both sides about settling the issue of EU nationals living in the UK, and Britons elsewhere in Europe.

She said recent comments by EU figures showed that talks could be hard, and stressed her determination to reach agreement on a trade deal at the same time as settling the terms of the UK’s exit.

The EU wants to tackle the issue of any “divorce bill” for the UK at an early stage of the process.

Mrs May said EU leaders were keen to “start discussions about money”, but added: “I’m very clear that at the end of the negotiations we need to be clear not just about the Brexit arrangement, the exit, how we withdraw, but also what our future relationship is going to be.”

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron told the Marr show the UK “desperately needs a strong opposition”, saying that Lib Dem success was the only way to prevent the “calamity of hard Brexit”.

A Conservative majority was “not in question” and Mrs May was heading for a “colossal coronation”, he predicted.

He said the decision to call the general election had been motivated by a “cold, calculated desire to do what’s best for the Conservative Party”.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood told the Sunday Politics show any Brexit plan that threatened Welsh jobs would be “extreme” and “unacceptable”.

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond said his party would provide “real opposition” to the Tories on public spending cuts.

General election 2017: May says Tories would not raise VAT}

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