Labour is ready for an election “at any point” John McDonnell said today as the row intensified over Philip Hammond’s tax hike on 2.5 million self-employed workers.
When the shadow chancellor was confronted with Labour’s poor poll ratings, he told the Today Programme that the party wants “an election to get rid of this government”, whenever it may come.
McDonnell slammed Hammond’s decision to raise national insurance contributions for the self-employed in yesterday’s Budget describing it as “increasing the burden on… particularly low and middle earners”.
He pointed out that the policy “does contravene what the Conservatives promised at the last general election” and warned that the self employed are getting nothing in return.
“All they’re promised [the self-employed] is a review of some of the benefits that they don’t get access to.”
He also looked at “bogus self-employment… there’s nothing here to tackle that”, after years of Labour campaigning on the issue.
McDonnell, who was among many from across the party to criticise the chancellor’s NICs rise yesterday, warned that those who are self-employed are the most vulnerable to changes in consumer spending, which he says is “beginning to dip”.
He was clear however, that “on this policy, we’re not electioneering… we’re saying this is wrong. If Conservative MPs want to join with us and other political parties to persuade the chancellor to change his mind so much the better.”
Labour MPs are expected to table proposed changes to the finance bill in the coming days in an attempt to pile pressure on the chancellor.