Labour dubs Conservative manifesto ‘Jeremy Corbyn-style’ and rules out 2p NI cut

Wes Streeting and Keir Starmer. Photo: Labour

Labour leader Keir Starmer has dubbed the Conservatives’ general election manifesto “Jeremy Corbyn-style”, promising “anything you want” with uncosted policies, in one of his most damning attacks on the party’s recent past.

It came as a Labour shadow cabinet member also said the opposition is “not able” to match the Conservatives’ new pledge to slash the national insurance paid by employees by 2p, warning the “money simply isn’t there”.

The Tories are expected to pledge to cut national insurance again to 6% at their manifesto launch today, after two previous cuts under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, taking it down from 12%. The party has suggested its long-term ambition is to abolish it altogether, prompting warnings from Labour of a £46 billion black hole in Tory spending plans.

READ MORE: Labour manifestos of old: Read previous policy platforms from 1997 to 2019

Labour has sought to neutralise tax as a political dividing line by ruling out increases to income tax, national insurance and VAT during the campaign, as well as previously vowing to cap corporation tax at its current 25% rate. The Financial Times also reported this week Labour may ditch plans to reinstate the lifetime tax-free pensions allowance that the Tories scrapped last year.

But the opposition appears willing to draw a line in the sand over further national insurance cuts, resisting potential pressure from the Tories and right-wing media for a race to the bottom.

Streeting: ‘Money isn’t there’ for 2p national insurance cut

Asked on BBC Breakfast if Labour would match the latest 2p cut,  Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said: “We aren’t able to make that commitment, because the money simply isn’t there.

“Rishi Sunak should level with people that the money isn’t there. He’s taking people for fools.

READ MORE: Labour declines to rule out capital gains tax hikes as Lib Dems vow reform

“They can see that national insurance has been put up time and again by Conservative chancellors, to pay the price of their economic recklessness and vandalism…re-electing these chancers would be like giving the matches back to the arsonists.”

Starmer lays into Sunak – and Corbyn

Responding to the Tory manifesto more widely, Streeting urged voters to look carefully at an “enormous and desperate attempt to buy people’s votes.”

There are a “whole raft of unfunded spending commitments and tax cuts”, he said, adding: This is Liz Truss’ ‘mini Budget’ on steroids.”

Meanwhile Starmer told the BBC the manifesto was “Corbyn-style”, with “none of it costed”.


READ MORE: Labour party manifesto 2024: Crunch Clause V meeting endorses policy but Unite tensions surface

Labour faced a grilling during its 2019 campaign for not being clear on how commitments including  WASPI compensation and nationalisation would be funded, but Labour did pledge significant tax hikes and then-shadow chancellor John McDonnell said at the time plans in the manifesto were fully costed.

A spokesperson for Labour left campaign group Momentum noted Starmer had been in the shadow cabinet at the time, and accused him of “inexplicably…attacking his own side” and spreading “misinformation”.

Read more of our 2024 general election coverage here.

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