Victoria Derbyshire Corners Minister By Asking If Tories Want To 'Correct Mistakes' Of Last 14 Years

The presenter questioned why new Tory policies appear to undo old Tory schemes.
Victoria Derbyshire skewered Mark Harper on BBC Newsnight last night
Victoria Derbyshire skewered Mark Harper on BBC Newsnight last night
BBC Newsnight

BBC Newsnight host Victoria Derbyshire asked a cabinet minister if the Tories were looking to “correct” their mistakes with another term in office last night.

Speaking to transport secretary Mark Harper, the presenter queried one of the Conservatives’ new campaign policies – raising the tax-free pension allowance.

If the Tories win the general election, PM Rishi Sunak wants that personal allowance for pensioners to increase by at least 2.5%, or in line with inflation or the highest of earnings.

As Harper told Derbyshire, this also means if someone only has the basic state pension, the Tories will make sure they will not pay any tax on it.

The TV host asked: “So you’re unfreezing the freeze that Rishi Sunak brought in, and I’m just wondering if that’s part of the reason you want another five years, to correct the mistakes you’ve made in the past 14?”

Sunak imposed a freeze on tax thresholds in the Spring 2021 Budget as the chancellor.

“They weren’t mistakes,” Harper said.

“You’ve just reversed it!” Derbyshire replied.

The minister said: “The thing people keep forgetting when we have this discussion is there was a global pandemic which cost us £400bn to protect millions of jobs and thousands of businesses, and that has to be paid for.”

Derbyshire then pointed out that his party claim they can fund this by cracking down on tax avoidance. She asked: “So how come there is still £2.5bn of tax being avoided after 14 years of Tory government?”

“We have said that we can do that, and we know we can do that,” Harper replied.

The TV host jumped in again: “So the question is, how come you’ve left this uncollected for 14 years?”

He said the “tax gap” between what the government could collect and what is actually collected “smaller now than it ever has been” because of Conservatives crackdown.

“We’re going to carry on cracking down on evasion and avoidance,” he claimed, saying this would raise £6bn – £2.4bn of which the Tories want to use to protect the pensioners.

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