‘Quite a easy hit’ Labour frontbencher fails to answer key tax rise question four times

Bridget Phillipson gets grilled by Sky host on possible tax rises

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Bridget Phillipson told Sky News’ Niall Paterson that now was not the time for a steep rise in business taxes as the country has yet to recover fully from the coronavirus pandemic. However, Mr Paterson told the Keir Starmer ally that Labour had opted for “quite a easy hit” with their opposition to Rishi Sunak’s plan to tackle the Government’s mounting debt levels. The Chancellor is set to deliver his Budget on Wednesday afternoon as he looks to rebuild the economy.

Ms Phillipson said: “We don’t think that now is the time for taxes rises, the economy is in such a fragile position.

“Hitting people in their pockets when building up confidence in our economy is absolutely essential and the Chancellor is out on a limb on this.

“Mainstream opinion on this is very clear that securing the economy must be the absolute priority of the government.

“So that should mean we don’t see tax rises immediately and we see action to protect family finances.”

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The Labour frontbencher was asked four times about the schedule Labour would seek to see adopted for tax rises but failed to provide a clear answer.

“It is though from my perspective at least a little bit of an easy hit for the Labour Party today to say look no this is not the time for tax rises,” pressed Mr Paterson.

“All of which suggests were you in Government there would be tax rises just not right now,

He asked: “I mean when would you consider raising taxes be it in terms of being individual, personal income or indeed on corporation tax?

“Certainly before the end of this Parliament.”

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Ms Phillipson replied: “First of all we need to recognise that this is a pandemic and it is unprecedented.

“Secondly it isn’t just the Labour party that is saying that now isn’t the time for immediate taxes rises,

“Everyone from the CBI to IMF, you would struggle to find a serious economist arguing that tax rises are the way to secure our economy.

“We need to see a much greater push on getting people back into work and on protecting family finances, not sucking demand out and hitting people in their pockets at such a fragile moment.”

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Mr Sunak has spent almost £300billion over the past year to keep the economy afloat during lockdowns and social distancing restrictions.

Today he will unveil his plan to continue balancing the needs of the economy while also looking begin to address the spiralling deficit.

The furlough scheme which has kept more than 11 million people in jobs since the first lockdown last year is set to be extended until September.

But the Treasury is expected to also use the statement to warn of future tax rises to help recoup the cost.

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