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Rishi Sunak said he is not “blind to the fact people are frustrated with me” as he unveiled a £17bn package of tax cuts in the Conservative manifesto.

The prime minister admitted he has “not got everything right” as he set out “big ideas” to turn around his faltering campaign.

Having called the election amid a 20-point poll deficit, things became worse for Mr Sunak when he left an international D-day event early last week – sparking such a furore he was forced quash rumours he considered resigning.

Election latest: Tory manifesto launch

Mr Sunak’s headline offering to voters includes a further 2p cut to national insurance (NI) and the so-called “triple lock plus” for pensioners – which will create a new “age-related” tax-free allowance.

He also wants to cut taxes to support the self-employed by abolishing the main rate of self-employed national insurance entirely by the end of the next parliament.

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PM launches party manifesto

In a bid to boost home ownership, he has also set a new target of building 1.6 million new homes, promised to abolish stamp duty on properties up to a value of £425,000 for first-time buyers, capital gains tax relief for landlords who sell to their existing tenants and a new Help to Buy scheme.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak launches the Conservative Party General Election manifesto at Silverstone in Towcester, Northamptonshire. Picture date: Tuesday June 11, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Election. Photo credit should read: James Manning/PA Wire
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Pic: PA

For young people, the manifesto includes previously announced plans for mandatory national service, banning the use of mobile phones during the school day and scrapping A-Levels in place of a new system, the Advanced British Standard.

“Now is the time for bold action, not the uncertain Keir Starmer as prime minister”, Mr Sunak said.

In a nod to polls suggesting the Tories are heading for an electoral wipeout, the prime minister said he is not “blind to the fact that people are frustrated with our party and frustrated with me”.

He admitted “we have not got everything right” but claimed the Conservatives are the only party “with the big ideas to make our country a better place to live”.

“We will keep cutting taxes in the coming years meaning by 2027 we will have halved national insurance to 6%, that is a tax cut my friends of £1300 to the average worker,” Mr Sunak said.

Migration caps and tougher sentencing

In his launch speech, he also committed to “halve migration as we have halved inflation and then reduce it every single year”.

The plans on how to achieve this were thin on detail, but Mr Sunak said he will introduce a cap that means MPs will be able to vote every year on how many people can come into the country.

On law and order, pledges include a 25-year prison term for domestic murders, a review of homicide sentencing and a ban on protests outside schools.

Other policies in the manifesto include:

• Moving the threshold to pay high income child benefit charge for single-earner families to £120,000, up from £60,000 currently
• A guarantee not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT
• A workplace pension guarantee to not introduce any new taxes on pensions or increase existing ones for the whole of the next parliament
• A commitment not to change the number of council tax bands, undertake a council tax revaluation or cut council tax discounts
• An ambition to abolish national insurance when financially responsible to do so
• A “binding, legal cap” on work and family visas which would “fall every year of the next parliament and cannot be breached”
• A requirement for migrants to undergo a health check in advance of coming to the UK – with the prospect of paying a higher rate of the immigration health surcharge or forcing them to purchase insurance if they are “likely to be a burden on the NHS”

Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murty arrive at an event to launch the Conservative Party's manifesto.
Pic: Reuters
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Pic: Reuters

PM denies manifesto ‘last chance saloon’

In total, the package of giveaways would amount to a £17.2bn annual cost to the Exchequer by 2029-30.

The Tories say they will pay for the measures by reforming the welfare system to make savings of about £12bn.

The other £5bn will come from cutting the civil service and saving on consultancy.

The 2p cut to NI is the third reduction promised by the Tories as part of a drive to eliminate the tax altogether.

The party reduced employees’ national insurance from 10% to 8% at the March budget, following a similar cut in autumn 2023, at an annual cost of almost £10bn by 2028/29.

But critics have pointed out that this followed the tax burden reaching the highest level since the Second World War under the Conservatives’ watch, with frozen income tax thresholds previously announced by Mr Sunak dragging people into higher tax bands.

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Election: Sky’s Beth Rigby asks if PM has ‘blown it’ with voters on tax

Pressed on why anyone should believe his promise to cut taxes, the prime minister said he previously had to make difficult decisions because of the COVID pandemic and energy crisis sparked by the war in Ukraine.

He denied the manifesto was a “last chance saloon”, claiming he took the job as prime minister under challenging circumstances but the country had “turned a corner” and “it is right to talk about the future”.

Asked by Sky News political editor Beth Rigby if he had blown it no matter what he says, he said: “The only poll that matters is the poll on July 4th.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the money was not there to pay for the prime minister’s pledges, warning it was a “recipe for five more years of chaos” under the Conservatives.

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Digital Chamber raises privacy concerns over IRS crypto tax draft

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Digital Chamber raises privacy concerns over IRS crypto tax draft

The Chamber proposes adding a field to the form for brokers to indicate if a digital asset has a different tax rate, such as NFTs taxed as collectibles, to prevent errors and ensure accurate reporting.

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Nigeria rejects claims of Binance exec’s poor health in custody

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Mohammed Idris, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and National Orientation emphasized that Gambaryan enjoys full consular support from his home government.

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Farage says West ‘provoked’ Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with EU and NATO expansions

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Farage says West 'provoked' Russia's invasion of Ukraine with EU and NATO expansions

Nigel Farage has reiterated that he blames the West and NATO for the Russian invasion of Ukraine – as he confirmed that he previously said he “admired” Vladimir Putin as a statesman.

Speaking to the BBC, the Reform UK leader was asked about his previous comments on Russia and Ukraine.

Asked about Russia’s 2022 invasion, Mr Farage told Nick Robinson that he had been saying since the fall of the Berlin Wall that there would be a war in Ukraine due to the “ever-eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union”.

Election latest: More bad news for Tory campaign

He said this was giving Mr Putin a reason to tell the Russian people “they’re coming for us again” and go to war.

The Reform leader confirmed his belief the West “provoked” the conflict – but said it was “of course” the Russian president’s “fault”.

Pic: Reuters
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Mr Farage was asked about the war in Ukraine. Pic: Reuters

Previous comments Mr Farage made about Mr Putin were also put to him.

He was asked about comments he made in 2014 stating that Mr Putin was the statesman he most admired.

Mr Farage said he disliked the Russian leader – but “I admired him as a political operator because he’s managed to take control” of running the country.

“This is the nonsense, you know, you can pick any figure, current or historical, and say, you know, did they have good aspects?” he added.

“And if you said, ‘well, they were very talented in one area,’ then suddenly you’re the biggest supporter.”

Conservative candidates – who may be feeling the threat of a Reform surge in the polls – were quick to condemn the Reform leader.

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Home Secretary James Cleverly said Mr Farage was “echoing Putin’s vile justification for the brutal invasion of Ukraine”.

Deputy Conservative chair Jonathan Gullis added that Putin is “certainly not someone who should be admired” – adding that he “unleashed chemical warfare on the streets of our country to commit murder, which endangered further innocent British lives”.

Labour’s shadow defence secretary, John Healey, said: “These are disgraceful comments, which reveal the true face of Nigel Farage: a Putin apologist who should never be trusted with our nation’s security.

“Up until now, there has been a united front amongst Britain’s political leaders in supporting the people of Ukraine against the unprovoked and unjustifiable assault they have suffered at the hands of Vladimir Putin.

“Nigel Farage has put himself outside that united position, and shown that he would rather lick Vladimir Putin’s boots than stand up for the people of Ukraine. That makes him unfit for any political office in our country, let alone leading a serious party in parliament.”

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Mr Farage was also asked about Brexit, and how it has impacted the UK.

He was asked about previous comments he made when he said Brexit had “failed”.

The former UKIP leader said this is what “the Conservatives have done with it”.

“If you put me in charge it’d be very, very different,” he claimed, “but of course they didn’t do that, did they?”

On his party’s climate policies, Mr Farage said he wants to “go for nuclear energy” and scrap the existing net zero programme.

He rejected that he was “arguing the science” on climate change, but that “we spend too much time hyperventilating about the problem, rather than thinking practically and logically what we can do”.

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Mr Farage added that King Charles – who was then a prince – made a “very stupid comment” when he said carbon dioxide was a pollutant.

The Reform leader then said that, by deindustrialising, the CO2 production had been sent offshore to places like India and “all we’ve done is to export the emissions”.

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