Jeremy Hunt promises further tax cuts as pre-general election battle hots up

Jeremy Hunt has promised further tax cuts if the Tories win the next general election, accusing the Labour Party of not being honest about how it will fund its spending pledges.

Giving a speech in London on Friday, the chancellor accused his shadow, Rachel Reeves, of resorting to "playground politics" with her criticism of the high levels of taxation on UK households.

Mr Hunt also reiterated 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.

"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 said.

"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."