UK's Conservative Party election manifesto promises tax cuts, economic stability

UK's Conservative Party election manifesto promises tax cuts, economic stability

With party down in the polls, Prime Minister Sunak stresses Conservatives' commitment to 'sound money'

By Aysu Bicer

LONDON (AA) - With polls just weeks away, Britain’s embattled Conservative Party on Tuesday launched its election manifesto, promising significant tax cuts and a focus on economic stability.

Speaking at the Silverstone race track in Northamptonshire, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak outlined the party's key pledges, which include a 2 percentage point cut in employee National Insurance by April 2027 and the abolition of the main rate of self-employed National Insurance by the end of the parliamentary term.

In addition to these tax cuts, Sunak announced a series of measures aimed at supporting first-time homebuyers and tenants.

These include a stamp duty cut for some first-time buyers, a new Help to Buy scheme, and tax cuts for landlords who sell properties to their tenants.

Sunak stressed the economic challenges the UK has faced in recent years, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and the spike in energy prices following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Despite these challenges, he claimed that economic stability is returning, with inflation back to normal levels, real wages rising for almost a year, and the economy growing healthily.

"The question now is who is best to turn that foundation into a secure future for you, your family, and our country," he said.

Sunak highlighted the Conservative Party's commitment to security, both economically and in terms of national defense.

The manifesto includes a pledge to increase defense investment to 2.5% of GDP by 2030, which Sunak described as the biggest sustained increase in the defense budget since the end of the Cold War.

The main opposition Labour Party would not match this commitment, he said. Labour is well ahead in the polls for the July 4 elections.

- ‘Party of Thatcher and Nigel Lawson’

On the issue of border security, Sunak reiterated the party's stance on the controversial Rwanda scheme, stating that flights would start in July if the Conservatives are re-elected.

He argued that this plan to send some asylum seekers to the small East African country would act as a deterrent to illegal immigration.

Additionally, the manifesto includes a proposed migration cap, with Sunak saying migration to the UK has been too high in recent years.

He pledged that the Conservatives would cut migration in half, mirroring their success in halving inflation, and then reduce it more each year.

Sunak also reiterated the party's belief in lower taxes, stating that people should not be taxed on work twice.

By 2027, the proposed cuts to National Insurance would be worth £1,300 ($1,657) to the average worker, he said.

He criticized Labour's tax plans, claiming they would increase taxes by more than £2,000, a burden families cannot afford – a charge that Labour leader Keir Starmer denied in an election debate last week.

Citing the take-charge 1980s prime minister and her Treasury chief, Sunak declared, "We are the party of Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson," emphasizing the Conservatives' commitment to "sound money."

The manifesto promises that the proposed tax reductions will be funded by controlling the rise in working-age welfare, which Sunak described as "morally right."

He argued that those who can work should do so, reflecting the party's stance on welfare reform.

Acknowledging public frustration with the Conservative Party and his leadership, Sunak asserted that the Conservatives are the only party with a clear vision for the future.

He accused Starmer of not providing details on how Labour's plans would be funded, saying he is asking voters for a "blank check.”

Sunak warned that a Labour government would result in higher immigration and taxes, and accused Starmer of wanting to change the voting rules to maintain power, such as by lowering the voting age to 16.

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