Keir Starmer is facing pressure to shift his party’s position on tax rises ahead of the Budget. During PMQs, the leader said “now is not the time for tax rises on families and businesses”, and a shadow Treasury minister shortly afterwards reiterated the message when asked whether Labour would support any tax rises. He appeared to rule out supporting an uplift to corporation tax or the introduction of a Covid windfall tax on companies that have done well during the crisis. With Rishi Sunak reportedly considering both, we could be in the bizarre position where Labour is opposing a Conservative government on tax rises for big business.
John McDonnell recently called for a Covid windfall tax, while Momentum and other left MPs have made their positions clear. Ed Miliband has also previously backed increasing corporation tax, which the government may be raising from 19% (the fourth lowest among the 37 OECD countries) to 25%. Some have pointed out that Starmer pledged during the leadership contest to reverse the Tories’ cuts in corporation tax, and that doing so would only affect those making a profit. One frontbencher told The Guardian that Labour should not be against a progressive tax rise, while three other shadow cabinet sources said they backed the current position. But it looks like Labour could soften its stance by making clear that a gradual increase in corporation tax over the parliamentary term would be acceptable.
New nominations in the selection process for the Labour’s Liverpool mayoral candidate must be submitted by midday today. Interviews are scheduled for Monday. The contest was suddenly suspended last week and none of the three shortlisted candidates are being invited to rejoin the race. Liverpool councillors could scrap the post ahead of the May election. The Labour group had already committed to holding a referendum in 2023 on whether to keep the directly-elected city mayor model, but councillors are considering voting to get rid of the mayoralty at their full council meeting on Wednesday. It scuppers the plans of Labour nationally, but there is not much HQ could do to stop it now.
Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, has written for LabourList ahead of the annual St David’s Day debate on Welsh affairs in the House of Commons today. He has outlined how radical thinking has helped the party to build a better Wales for 20 years. We also have a preview of Anneliese Dodds’ latest speech, in which she will unveil Labour’s plan for British high streets. Her proposals include reversing new Tory planning rules and giving councils new powers to repurpose vacant properties. Stay tuned for that this afternoon. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.