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Election 2024: Starmer sticks to the script, Farage eyes Tory top spot

Proactive Investors –

  • Starmer promises wealth creation
  • Sunak promises NI cut
  • What happened last week

Starmer sticks to the (dull) script

Keir Starmer has promised not to raise National Insurance, the basic, higher, or additional rates of Income Tax, or VAT if, as seems likely from the polls, he becomes the UK’s next Prime Minister.

Corporation tax would also stay as 25%, he said.

Laying out Labour’s manifesto for the forthcoming election, Starmer also reiterated that it would be non-doms and oil and gas companies that would be paying for most of his pledges.

Rishi Sunak immediately turned to the costing for all of the policies, adding that it would result in the highest taxes in UK history though that is record that he currently holds.

“if you think they’ll wins, start saving” he posted in a comment on X.

Independent forecasters say Labour leader light on detail

Even independent commentators thought Starmer was a little light on detail.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said Labour’s manifesto had provided “no indication that there is a plan for where the money would come” to deliver the change the party is promising.

Paul Johnson, the think tank’s director, said: “This is a manifesto that promises a dizzying number of reviews and strategies to tackle some of the challenges facing the country.

“That is better than a shopping list of half-baked policy announcements. But delivering genuine change will almost certainly also require putting actual resources on the table.”

The Resolution Foundation meanwhile has warned Labour’s cautious approach to ‘tax and spend’ points to sharp tax rises and public service cuts over the next parliament if elected.

Farage happy to lead merged Tory/Reform – after the election

But if all Starmer had to do was not drop the ball, problems for Rishi Sunak continue to mount up.

Nigel Farage today confirmed he would be happy to lead a merged Reform-Conservative party, post-the-election.

Speaking to LBC, the Reform party leader said: “I think something new is going to emerge on the centre-right, I don’t know what it is called.

“But do I think I am capable of leading a national opposition to a Labour Party with a big majority where I can stand up and hold them to account on issues? Yes.”

“ I would be prepared to lead the centre Right in this country.”

Wednesday: Supermajority speculation

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has sent political analysts into a tizzy with his warning of the dangers of a ‘supermajority’ for Labour.

“You want to make sure that in this next government, whoever forms it, there’s a proper system of accountability,” he said in an interview.

“You don’t want to have somebody receive a supermajority. And in this case, of course, the concern would be that if Keir Starmer were to go into No 10… and that power was in some way unchecked, it would be very bad news for people in this country”.

So is this the Tories throwing in the towel? Analysts said unlikely, but a new subtle approach to wooing marginal voters, possibly.

Polls still make grim reading for PM

Latest polls suggest little change despite Rishi Sunak’s manifesto launch with Labour at 43%, the Tories at 22% and worryingly for the government Reform’s vote growing to 13%.

Trust in politicians at a new low

A new report has suggested voters’ trust and confidence in the UK’s politics and election system has never been worse.

The National Centre for Social Research study found record numbers of voters saying they “almost never” trust governments to put country first or even tell the truth under pressure.

Brexit voters are especially unhappy said the report.

“The public is as doubtful as it has ever been about the trustworthiness and efficacy of the country’s system of government and the people who comprise it,” report author Sir John Curtice added.

Latest TV debate tonight

Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer go head to head tonight in the third televised debate ahead of the Labour Party ‘s manifesto tomorrow.

One thing that will be in the document, according to the Telegraph, is a commitment to scrap all new North Sea oil and gas licences but it is the tax plans that will get the most scrutiny.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has already committed to no income tax, national insurance or VAT rises but there has been no comment on capital gains tax.

Tuesday: Tories promise tax cuts and first-time buyer help

Rishi Sunak has put another cut in national insurance and promise to reduce immigration at the heart of the Conservative campaign to get re-elected.

Launching the Tory manifesto today, the Prime Minister said that his party would bring“ lower immigration, lower taxes and protected pensions”

Tax has already played a major role in the earlier skirmishes between the two main parties but the immigration element reflects the ground being lost to Nigel Farage’s Reform Party.

In the manifesto, Sunak said he would reduce national insurance by a further 2% following the cut to 8% from 10% in the last Budget having already cut it from 12%.

Stamp duty would be abolished for first-time buyers on properties up to the value of £425,000 with a new Help to Buy scheme also to help people at the bottom of the property ladder.

Stamp duty would be abolished for first-time buyers on properties up to the value of £425,000 with a new Help to Buy scheme also to help people at the bottom of the property ladder.

N Sea project dropped due to uncertainty

Away from rhetoric a reminder of things in the real world as Deltic Energy PLC (LON:) has withdrawn from the Pensacola project in the North Sea due to its inability to secure a farm-out or alternative funding solution.

The company cited ongoing fiscal volatility and negative political comments as significant challenges leading up to the July election, which damaged the proposition for potential new investors.

Despite exploring various funding solutions, including potential industry partners, equity capital markets, and strategic investors, Deltic determined that the only appropriate course of action was to withdraw from the licence before further liabilities crystallized.

Shell (LON:) is its partner on the project, which was seen as one of the best discoveries in the North Sea in decades underling the uncertainty currently surrounding the UK’s energy sector.

Last week, union Unite said it would not endorse Labour’s manifesto because it did not do enough to support workers’ rights and jobs in the oil and gas industry.

Monday: Taxes going up whatever, says Goldman Sachs (NYSE:)

Whatever the outcome of the election, the UK is facing big tax hikes, says a Wall Street heavyweight.

Goldman Sachs says such an eventuality is inevitable due to the losses caused by the Bank of England’s quantitative easing programme.

Higher borrowing costs due to the scheme will force the next chancellor (whatever her or his political colour) to raise taxes even more than expected.

Losses from QE will add an additional burden to what is already being forecast as a difficult time for the UK’s finances, argues the Wall St bank

Goldman notes that both the Tories and Labour have ruled out raising income tax, National Insurance, or VAT, so more ‘innovative’ ways will be needed to raise money with the freezing of tax, which both parties have said will occur for three years, likely to be just the start.

New flight and buyback taxes to pay for LibDems social care programmes

After some shadowboxing in the past couple of weeks, things are starting to heat up with the publication of the first major party manifesto.

It comes from the Liberal Democrats, which are targeting NHS, social care, defence, schools and childcare among the measures.

For the NHS and social care, a promise 8,000 more GPs and free personal care in England, costing £8.35 billion, scrapping the two-sprog limit on child benefit (£4.1 billion) and £3 billion for childcare and £2.2 billion for schools are among the headlines.

Paying for it will come from higher taxes on banks, increasing capital gains tax, a new aviation duty and a crackdown on tax avoidance.

And like the Tories and Labour, the LibDems will keep Jeremy Hunt’s stealth tax measure of freezing income tax thresholds.

Starmer woos SMEs with business rate pledge

Labour has turned to wooing small businesses with the promise of an overhaul of the business rates system, one of the main gripes for shop-owners and entrepreneurs.

Keir Starmer said the Tories had failed to fix a system that has been out of kilter for a “long time”.

“We want small businesses to thrive because they are the backbone of our economy and they need that stability in our economy,” he said at a hustings event in London.

On business rates, he added: “We want to replace them with a system that works better, because at the moment there’s not a level playing field between businesses that are online and those that are sort of bricks and mortar.”

Labour would also accelerate the development of banking hubs and crack down on large companies paying invoices late, another bugbear for many small businesses.

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