Sunday shows: Labour could back “long-term plan” on corporation tax rise

Elliot Chappell

Ridge on Sunday

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds told viewers today that Labour would “look carefully” at a “long-term plan for getting our country to a better place on corporation tax” in the Budget but warned against immediate tax increases.

  • Asked what she wants to see in the Budget: “An absolute determination to protect jobs and businesses in the UK and secure our recovery. That must be at the front of the Chancellor’s mind – not any party-political considerations.”
  • On reports that Sunak is considering an increase to corporation tax: “The Chancellor is trying to get any tax changes out of the way quickly so that they can then have a general election where they can cut taxes.”
  • She added: “We would welcome that longer-term debate… But let’s not pretend the Conservative Party is doing this right now because they want to secure our recovery. It seems to be driven by party-political considerations.”
  • Asked whether Labour would oppose a rise in corporation tax in the Budget next week: “If we see a long-term plan for getting our country to a better place on corporation tax… Of course we will look carefully at that.”
  • On that prospect of a longer-term increase in the tax: “We need to look at how this would be rolled out. We need to make sure that this would be a plan that would actually make sense for British business.”
  • Asked whether Labour would support taxes for online companies: “It is so important that they do start to level that playing field. We’ve got businesses really suffering on the high street… We really do need to be getting this right.”
  • Asked about a potential windfall tax on companies that have done well during the pandemic: “What the government should be focused on doing right now is on protecting jobs and businesses.”
  • On whether she would support any tax rises: “We can have the Chancellor talking about how he would tax different forms of economic activity. But if the tax base is shrinking… that discussion is really at one remove from securing our recovery.”
  • On public finances: “It’s really important that we build that economic activity back up. That’s what’s happening in other countries and really the UK is well out of the mainstream now with the Chancellor’s approach.”
  • On the government’s approach to the pandemic: “We’ve seen billions of pounds wasted by the government… It’s really important we do tackle it. But secondly, we also need to see a much more targeted approach from government.”
  • Dodds told viewers this morning: “Let’s stamp out that waste and mismanagement. And if we did that, then this crisis wouldn’t be proving as costly as it is under the Conservatives.”
  • Asked about the recent Supreme Court ruling that Shamima Begum, who left the UK as a child to join IS, cannot return to the country to fight her citizenship case: “We respect that judgement. We respect the rule of law.”

Anas Sarwar discussed his victory in the Scottish Labour leadership election and the challenge facing the party in May. He also told viewers that holding a “divisive” independence referendum as the country recovers from Covid would be wrong.

  • Asked how Labour would “climb the mountain” ahead of the May election: “The first part is to be honest and say that we have got a really bad position we’re in now. I’m not naive about the scale of the challenge.”
  • He added: “That’s why yesterday I thought it was important to say directly to the people of Scotland that they’ve not had the Labour Party they deserve… We haven’t been good enough.”
  • Asked whether Labour believes it needs to win from the centre: “It’s more about looking outwards rather than looking inwards. Recognising that whatever divisions we think might exist within our own political party… pale into insignificance compared to the divisions and inequality that exist in our society.”
  • Asked whether, if the SNP win a majority in May, they would have a mandate for a second independence referendum: “Of course it’s for the Scottish people to choose their own future but actually is it the right thing to have a referendum?”
  • On Covid and a second referendum: “Coming through the collective trauma of Covid… The idea that we’d come through this and go straight into a divisive referendum campaign – I just don’t think is the right thing to do.”
  • Pressed on the issue: “I don’t want to commentate about what happens after May. We aren’t spectators – we are participants… If I believe in something, I’m going to argue for it. I don’t believe independence is the right answer.”
  • On allegations that Nicola Sturgeon has broken the ministerial code: “Forget who the minister is… if a minister is found to breach the ministerial code, I think people would expect that minister to resign.”
  • Asked why the SNP are polling well regardless of the ongoing scandal: “We have got to take part of the responsibility for that. The reality is that we haven’t had opposition political parties that have been on the pitch in Scotland.”
  • On the SNP: “The SNP are so blinded by their one priority, that they can’t be the ones that truly bring our country back together and rebuild it after Covid.”
  • On Labour: “That’s why we need a credible Labour Party. That’s why we need to get the Labour Party back on the pitch talking about the ideas that matter to people, the priorities that matter to people.”

Rishi Sunak also appeared on the show this morning. He refused to confirm whether the government would extend the furlough scheme in line with Covid restrictions but told those watching: “We are going to be there to support them.”

On further support during the pandemic, he said “there is more to come next week” and it is right that the support “aligns” with the timetable of easing Covid restrictions already set out by the Prime Minister.

The Chancellor also would not confirm today whether the government would be extending the £20-per-week uplift to Universal Credit, saying only that “I know that uplift has made a difference to people”.

He rejected reports that he had told Tory MPs he wants to raise taxes now to “plug the £43bn blackhole” before cutting them in a pre-election Budget. He argued: “No, I don’t recognise that figure, actually.”

The Andrew Marr Show

Anneliese Dodds argued that the government should not be considering immediate tax rises. She also called for the extension of a reformed furlough scheme and for the government to maintain the uplift to Universal Credit during Covid.

  • Asked “if not now, then when” on tax rises: “It shouldn’t be right now in terms of immediate tax rises and yet that is what we’re seeing with council tax rises that the government is forcing on to local authorities.”
  • Asked whether she agrees that at some point taxes will need to rise: “First of all, we must stamp out the appalling, waste, mismanagement, poor targeting that we’ve seen during this crisis. That would be reducing the bill.”
  • She added: “We must be securing jobs for the future, keeping businesses going – because currently our tax base is actually shrinking… The Chancellor should be focused on keeping them going otherwise he’ll have less to tax in the first place.”
  • On corporation tax: “Conservative-led governments have pulled us further and further away from the mainstream on corporation tax and that hasn’t increased investment – so there does need to be change.”
  • Asked whether Labour would oppose an increase to the tax in this Budget: “If there’s a long-term plan for changing the corporation tax regime, we will look at that favourably.”
  • But she added: “I would be concerned about additional taxes on business right now, particularly if there aren’t changes to allowances etc, this is currently really clamping down on business confidence, on confidence in our recovery.”
  • On Ian Lavery’s comments on Labour’s position on corporation tax: “He’s got this one wrong, unfortunately, because actually when we talk to businesses right across the country, as I have, what they’re really concerned about is confidence.”
  • On furlough: “The furlough scheme can’t continue as it is. It must be reformed – it must include training… But then the government has got to use this scheme as well as a holiday on business rates to build confidence.”
  • On the restrictions and the scheme: “The Chancellor should be clear, that for as long as there are health-based restrictions, and for as long as there’s a heavy impact on demand… there will still be availability of wage support.”
  • On when the scheme should end: “It needs to be linked to the impact. You know, we’ve had the Prime Minister saying data not dates – and yet unfortunately his government has been driven by arbitrary dates.”
  • On the Universal Credit uplift: “He [Sunak] should be clear that… we will see that £20 uplift maintained. But in the longer term, what we really need to see is reform, radical reform – indeed, scrapping that Universal Credit system.”
  • Put to her that Labour should support the £20 increase in perpetuity: “We’ve been clear that we don’t want to stick with this system… It’s been shown to manifestly not support people in the way that they need.”

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