Which one of them had a pandemic? Sunak dismantles graphic attack on his taxation record

Rishi Sunak dismantles graphic attack on his taxation record

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Rishi Sunak insisted the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Britain required him to make difficult decisions to bring back the economy to a healthy state. Sky News host Sophy Ridge questioned his record, confronting him with a graphic showing the tax hikes brought in by his predecessors compared to his own policies. But the Chancellor thoroughly dismantled attempts to mar his performance, noting no previous Chancellor in modern history had to operate during a pandemic and forced to introduce mitigatory measures to avoid an economic crash.

Sky News host Sophy Ridge said: “It shows UK tax changes under different Chancellors.

“Anything above the line is tax increases, everything below the line is tax reductions. Red is Labour, blue is Conservative.

“We can see you here right at the end, Rishi Sunak. In two years you’ve raised taxes the same amount as Gordon Brown did in ten years.

“How is that desire for a low-tax economy going?”

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But Mr Sunak quickly hit back: “I guess what the chart doesn’t show is all the other Chancellors, which ones had pandemics to deal with?

“Which one of those had to introduce furlough? Which one of those had borrowing higher than any level since World War 2?

“That’s the bit that’s not on that chart and that bar on the right is a direct reflection of all those things which are, anyone would say, exceptional.

“And no one had a pandemic to deal with in over a century so borrowing had never been that high since World War 2.

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“It’s the biggest recession we experienced as a country ever, that’s not on that chart either.”

Chancellor Sunak is due to unveil his mini Spring Budget on Wednesday.

He insisted “those on the lowest incomes have actually seen the greatest amount of support from this Government.”

And Mr Sunak added: “Judge me by my actions and over the last couple of years you’ll see – and all the research that’s published shows this – that those on the lowest incomes have actually seen the greatest amount of support from this Government.”

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Mr Sunak said Labour’s plan to cut VAT on energy “is the opposite of targeted”, adding the Government’s action was “much more targeted support”.

On the level of taxation, he cited the pandemic, adding: “I do think it will come down over time and we’ve started on that.

“I point people to my comments at the budget last autumn, where I said yes have we had to make some difficult decisions, we have.

“I believe those are the right decisions, the responsible decisions for the country’s economic security going forward, but those are done now and my priority is to reduce people’s taxes.”

He added: “My priority over time is to keep cutting people’s taxes, get that bar down and that’s we’re going to head.”

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