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Jeremy Hunt will promise further tax cuts if the Tories win the next general election and will accuse the Labour Party of not being honest about how it will fund its spending pledges.

The chancellor will give a speech in London on Friday in which he will accuse his shadow, Rachel Reeves, of resorting to “playground politics” with her criticism of the high levels of taxation on UK households.

Mr Hunt will also reiterate his ambition to eradicate the national insurance tax – which the Tories have already slashed twice in a bid to move the polls – where they currently lag 20 points behind Labour.

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Labour has attacked the policy as an unfunded £46bn pledge and likened it to the policies that saw Liz Truss resign from office after just 44 days as prime minister.

The chancellor was previously forced to make clear that his desire to abolish the “unfair” national insurance tax would not happen “any time soon”.

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The chancellor described national insurance as a “tax on work” and said he believed it was “unfair that we tax work twice” when other forms of income are only taxed once.

The overall tax burden is expected to increase over the next five years to around 37% of gross domestic product – close to a post-Second World War high – but Mr Hunt will argue the furlough scheme brought in during the pandemic and the help the government gave households for heating both needed to be paid for.

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Last week: National Insurance to be axed ‘when it’s affordable’

“Labour like to criticise tax rises this parliament thinking people don’t know why they have gone up – the furlough scheme, the energy price guarantee and billions of pounds of cost-of-living support, policies Labour themselves supported,” he will say.

“Which is why it is playground politics to use those tax rises to distract debate from the biggest divide in British politics – which is what happens next.

“Conservatives recognise that whilst those tax rises may have been necessary, they should not be permanent. Labour do not.”

James Murray, Labour’s shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, said: “There is nothing Jeremy Hunt can say or do to hide that fact that working people are worse off after 14 years of economic failure under the Conservatives.”

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Could Trump’s win nix SEC crypto suits? Critics say he’s ‘pandering’ for votes

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Could Trump’s win nix SEC crypto suits? Critics say he’s ‘pandering’ for votes

One crypto lawyer thinks a Donald Trump election win would revert some SEC crypto lawsuits, but others note he hasn’t always kept campaign promises.

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Sunak’s Number 10 is much better at keeping secrets than others

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Sunak's Number 10 is much better at keeping secrets than others

Suddenly, at election time, political predictions become so much harder and riskier. Everything changes in a campaign, not least the news cycle.

That’s my excuse, at any rate, for failing to foresee the announcement of a general election in last week’s Politics at Jack and Sam’s.

There were a few clues – and one magisterial tweet from Financial Times journalist Lucy Fisher – but we were deaf to the signals.

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Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak speaks to journalists on the plane on their way to Staffordshire, Britain May 24, 2024. HENRY NICHOLLS/Pool via REUTERS
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Pic: Reuters

In this week’s Politics At Jack and Sam’s podcast, we reflect how this Number 10 – in big contrast to the last two – is much better at keeping secrets.

But the moment an election is called, the way information gets out alters and everything becomes trickier.

Follow live – general election latest:
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Normally political news emerges in so many different ways. There’s parliament. Government announcements. Questions, written and oral. MPs themselves, including ministers, wandering the corridors of the Commons where journalists can go stopping for a gossip.

All of that disappears at election time. Keeping things secret from the other side matters a lot more, while decisions and information is held by a much tighter group of people.

That’s why it’s not really feasible to do a weekly look ahead political podcast – and we’re responding by going daily. More details to follow.

Rishi Sunak‘s allies are quite upfront that the timing of the general election was a finely balanced argument and you can make a case both ways.

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Sunak defends wet election announcement

One of the big things that motivated Sunak to go now was that he was doing – in his view – big things; welfare announcements, defence spending commitments, NHS workforce plan.

But they found people weren’t listening and the polls weren’t moving. They weren’t “getting a hearing”. Which they put down to people being switched off from politics and apathy being high – and so the decision to call an election was motivated by that.

The other big consideration was that from around March, early April they were getting internal economic indicators, suggesting the economic conditions – things like inflation, interest rates – might be favourable sufficiently such that they could base a campaign around.

Fascinatingly, they say there wasn’t a “decision” meeting two months ago or even three weeks ago – the move was more like the tide coming in slowly.

Although Labour were caught on the hop – some staff had booked leave, were privately confident there was nothing coming this summer and the Labour campaign bus is not yet ready – candidates claim to be pretty happy with what’s happened so far.

However, the biggest challenge of the next five weeks will be seeing whether they can respond to the pressure of a campaign, and the relentless desire for more of everything.

Currently the narrative is that Sunak had a miserable start – in a few weeks, pictures of the PM in the rain could be a plucky fighter battling against the odds.

This feels unlikely right now, but having been through the 2017 campaign, we know anything can happen.

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Trump promises to release Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht if re-elected

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Trump promises to release Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht if re-elected

Former United States President Donald Trump vows to free Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht if re-elected.

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