4 Ways Rishi Sunak's Claim Labour Would Raise Taxes By £2,000 Has Backfired – Badly

Although the Tories are still pushing this line, it has snowballed into a flurry of negative coverage for the party.
PM Rishi Sunak
PM Rishi Sunak
Pool via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has caused a huge stir by claiming a Labour government would raise taxes by £2,000 per household.

The prime minister repeated the point at least 10 times during his debate with Keir Starmer last night, and it took the Labour leader some time to dispel the allegation as “garbage”.

So the Conservatives quickly tried to double down on it as a means of attack.

But there are several major issues with the claim – and it looks like it has already backfired against the Tory campaign.

1. A fact-check from civil servants

Sunak repeatedly said that “independent Treasury civil servants” had calculated that Labour would need to put taxes up by £2,000 per household to fund all of their spending plans.

However, the Treasury themselves has denied any such claims – and reminded HuffPost UK that they are not independent, they serve the government.

According to the BBC, the Treasury’s chief civil servant even wrote to Labour saying that he had reminded the Conservatives that this angle “should not be presented as having been produced by the civil service”.

Former permanent secretary to the Treasury, Gus O’Donnell, also told The News Agents’ podcast that this was a “misleading” claim from Sunak – and that civil servants were in way acting independently when they were told to calculate such figures.

The UK’s official statistics regulator also launched an investigation into Sunak’s claim on Wednesday, and US channel CNN have even reported on it.

The Conservatives have maintained they were “fair” in the production of this briefing note.


The chief Treasury civil servant wrote to Labour two days ago saying that the £38 billion/£2,000 tax attack “should not be presented as having been produced by the civil service”

He said he had reminded ministers of this pic.twitter.com/s00XBfbvAj

— Henry Zeffman (@hzeffman) June 5, 2024

2. Comparisons to the ‘£350m for the NHS’ promise

After the civil servants called the prime minister out for his claim, comparisons began between this promise and the now infamous vow that leaving the European Union would mean giving £350m per week more to the NHS.

That slogan was proudly printed on the sides of the Vote Leave campaign’s buses – but it remains a mystery to many as to where that money has actually gone.

The UK Statistics Authority has condemned the £350m figure in the past for being “misleading”, and Nigel Farage admitted shortly after the UK voted for Brexit that the figure should never have been a formal part of the Leave campaign.

Is “2k more tax “
the new
“350 million NHS “bus slogan .
Doesn’t need to be right. Just needs to be repeated .
Have we come so little way since the grubby days of that campaign ??

— emily m (@maitlis) June 5, 2024

3. The Tories have already spent £40k promoting it

To make matters worse, the Tories have already been trying to promote this angle on social media for a week.

A campaign poster, launched on May 29, carries the caption: “If you think Labour will win, start saving... Labour promises to cost working families £2,094.”

According to Facebook’s ad library, the Conservatives have spent between £35,000 and £40,000 pushing this message across Instagram and Facebook.

It has supposedly reached more than a million users in that time.

🚨 The Tories have spent £40,000 online on their £2,000 tax lie already.
They are running it across Meta, including WhatsApp.@PaulBrandITV @implausibleblog @BarumDean @vicderbyshire https://t.co/kHmRhkCBfu pic.twitter.com/UBC3DrqOaI

— James Neill ≠ 𝕏 (@jneill) June 5, 2024

4. Sunak’s own method means his government would raise taxes by £3k

When the Tory-supporting Spectator deployed the same questionable methods Sunak’s camp used to come up with the £2,000 figure, the outlet found the prime minister’s own plans would mean raising taxes by even more – £3,000 per household.

The magazine suggested the Conservatives had calculated the total cost of all their opponent’s promises and divided that by the number working households (without pensioners or non-working households included).

Then they added up how that tax could be spread over the next four years.

The magazine did the same for the Tories, and found it works out at £3,020 – making the Conservative plans supposedly £1,000 more expensive than Labour’s.

The Spectator has just ran the figures for the Tories' published tax plans.

On Sunak's maths, it works out as £3,000 tax rise per household.

Details: https://t.co/xBhfB2nWlZ https://t.co/aJeOJVmquV

— Fraser Nelson (@FraserNelson) June 5, 2024

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