Rishi Sunak suggests more tax cuts are on the way – but refuses to commit to triple lock manifesto pledge
Rishi Sunak has suggested more tax cuts are on the way because the economy has “turned a corner”.
The prime minister told reporters that while he would not comment on specifics, trimming taxes was “the direction of travel from this government”.
But it came as he refused to say if the pensions triple lock would be in the next Conservative Party manifesto – despite Downing Street insisting in September that it was “committed” to the policy.
Mr Sunak’s comments echo similar remarks by his ministers in recent weeks.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also said last month that the economy had “turned a corner” just before he unveiled a cut to National Insurance in the Autumn Statement.
However, four million people could also end up paying higher taxes if their wages rise after the government decided to continue the freeze on tax thresholds.
Reports suggest the Conservatives are considering additional cuts in 2024 as the party tries to woo voters and reduce Labour’s 20-point lead in opinion polls ahead of the next general election, which must take place by January 28 2025.
Cuts to stamp duty and inheritance tax are among the options reportedly being looked at by ministers.
When asked about the two policies, Mr Sunak said: “I would never comment on specific taxes. But what I will just say, though, is we have turned a corner.
“We have got inflation down, as I said we would, we have grown the economy and we are now focused on controlling spending and controlling welfare so we can cut taxes. So when we can do more, we will.”
He added: “We want to grow the economy, we want to reward people’s hard work and aspirations and cut their taxes responsibly. That is the direction of travel from this government.
“If you want controlled public spending, controlled welfare and your taxes cut, then vote Conservative.”
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Mr Sunak was unable to make similar promises about the triple lock, which ensures the state pension must rise every April by whichever is highest out of average earnings, inflation or 2.5%.
The policy has come under fire in recent months by critics who claim it has become too expensive and gives the government less financial “headroom” to deal with economic shocks.
Some senior Tories have called for it to be scrapped and Labour has refused to guarantee the triple lock will remain in place if it wins the next election.
While the government continued with the policy in its recent Autumn Statement, ensuring the state pension will rise by 8.5% in April 2024 to £221.20 a week, Mr Sunak refused to be drawn when asked directly if it would be in the next Tory manifesto.
Speaking to journalists as he flew between the UK and Dubai for the COP28 summit, he replied: “[I’m] definitely not going to start writing the manifesto on the plane, as fun as that would be.”
Mr Sunak acknowledged there had been “some scepticism” about if policy was going to form part of the Autumn Statement, but said its inclusion had been “a signal of our commitment to look after our pensioners who have put a lot into our country”.
Lee Anderson suspended from Conservative Party after ‘Islamophobic’ comments
Lee Anderson has been suspended from the Conservative party after ‘Islamophobic’ comments.
A spokesperson for Chief Whip Simon Hart said: “Following his refusal to apologise for comments made yesterday, the Chief Whip has suspended the Conservative whip from Lee Anderson MP.”
Speaking on GB News this week, Mr Anderson, MP for Ashfield, said: “I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London… He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”
Earlier today Sadiq Khan accused the prime minister of being “complicit” in racism for failing to condemn Mr Anderson‘s comments that “pour fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred”.
Mr Khan said the claim by the former deputy chairman of Tory party were Islamophobic and sent the message that Muslims were “fair game” when it came to racism.
The remarks prompted criticism from Labour and some Tories, including former cabinet minister Sajid Javid who branded them “ridiculous”.
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King Charles shown chuckling at get well card featuring dog in a head cone
The King has been shown having a chuckle at cards sent by well-wishers, including one of a dog with the caption “at least you don’t have to wear a cone!”.
The 75-year-old monarch has been sent around 7,000 messages of support from around the world since his cancer diagnosis.
Newly released images and footage show King Charles looking through some of them at his desk in Buckingham Palace’s Belgian Suite.
He seemed particularly tickled by a card featuring an illustration of a terrier-like dog in a head cone, recovering from medical treatment.
Pets often wear plastic collars after an operation, to stop them aggravating a wound or stitches.
Other cards spread out in front of the King include one that reads “Your Majesty Get Well Soon”, while a number appear to be hand-drawn by children.
Many have related their own experience of cancer, with messages such as: “Chin up, chest out, remain positive and don’t let it get you down.”
“Never give up. Be brave. Don’t push your limits. Get Well Soon,” says one note from a child.
Those who’ve included their address will be sent a message of thanks.
The King was pictured reading the cards on Wednesday – the same day he met the prime minister for their weekly audience.
He told Rishi Sunak that he’d been “reduced to tears” by the public’s support.
“I’ve had so many wonderful messages and cards, it has reduced me to tears most of the time,” King Charles told the prime minister.
He added: “I hear there has been a lot more potential attention on those main, wonderful cancer charities, many of which I have been a patron of for years.”
The King had been mostly staying at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk following his first round of treatment in London.
Buckingham Palace announced on 5 February that cancer had been discovered while undergoing a procedure for an enlarged prostate.
The Palace has not released details about the type of cancer or the treatment.
Professional golfer Georgia Ball can ‘see the funny side’ after ‘mansplaining’ TikTok video goes viral
Professional female golfer Georgia Ball has said she can “see the funny side” after a video of an amateur player “mansplaining” to her about her swing went viral.
Ball, a certified PGA pro and instructor, also told Sky Sports she did not put the man in his place during the “awkward” conversation because she is a “humble person”.
The TikTok video of the incident she shared earlier this week has had more than 10 million views and over 26,000 comments, with many social media users mocking the man for “mansplaining”.
In the clip, Ball, who regularly shares instructional videos on her account, is seen practising her swing at a driving range near Liverpool.
A man off camera then says: “Excuse me, what you’re doing there, you shouldn’t be doing that… swing and follow through.”
He goes on to tell her that she is “too slow on the way up”.
Ball explains she is going through a “swing change” – something golfers regularly do to improve their technique.
However, the man continues: “I know, but what you’re doing there is you’re coming back too slow.
“I’ve been playing golf for 20 years, what you need to do is follow through a lot quicker than what you’re doing there right now.”
She explains again that she is going through a swing change, but the man continues to advise that she needs to move her club quicker.
Ball then cleanly strikes the ball into the distance before the man says: “See how much better that was?”
The professional golfer explains once again that she is practising a swing change, before the man repeats that he “has been playing for 20 years” and that she should carry on playing the way he has advised her to.
Ball then laughs, before sarcastically adding: “Thanks for your advice.”
Asked by Sky Sports how she felt during the interaction, Ball said: “It was an awkward conversation at the time but I was just concentrating on what I was doing… I am glad I can look back on it now and see the funny side to it.”
When asked if she was ever tempted to put the man in his place, she said: “To be honest, I am a humble person, it is not in me to call him out or say I am a PGA pro, it is just not in me to do that.”
Ball added that she never got the chance to see the man hit a ball, so was unable to pass comment on his swing.
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