Rishi Sunak is planning to implement two more tax cuts before the upcoming election in an effort to improve the party’s standing in the polls, according to the chair of the Conservatives, Richard Holden. In an interview he indicated that additional tax reductions were likely in the March budget, with another expected later in the year. These comments come as the 2 percentage-point reduction in national insurance came into effect this month.
Holden emphasized the party’s shift in direction as it emerges from a challenging period, citing the recent national insurance cut as the beginning of a series of tax cuts. Despite recent forecasts suggesting a more limited financial leeway for Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who had been hinted at tax cuts as a desired direction, Holden’s statements assert that tax reductions will indeed take place.
Holden also discussed the possibility of Nigel Farage, a former Conservative and political opponent in various capacities, joining the party. In response to concerns raised by polling indicating a potential threat from Farage’s Reform party, Holden expressed that any application from Farage would be considered based on its merits.
While acknowledging current polls showing the Conservatives trailing Labour by a significant margin, Holden downplayed the significance, noting the typical fluctuations between elections. Regarding the possible reappointment of former deputy chair Lee Anderson, who resigned over Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda plan, Holden indicated that decisions on appointments would involve discussions with the chief whip and the prime minister, and he did not rule out the possibility in the long term.
Holden expressed regret over the departure of Lee Anderson, acknowledging Anderson’s positive contributions to the party through fundraising efforts and support for party members. He emphasized the need for discussions with the chief whip and the prime minister regarding potential reappointments, indicating a willingness to consider various options.
The party chair’s comments on the current polling, where the Conservatives trail by 20 points or more behind Labour, underscored the volatility of poll numbers between elections. Holden suggested that such fluctuations are common and can be expected.
As the interview touched on the financial aspect, the media had reported a reduced fiscal headroom for Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, estimating it to be around £14bn instead of the initially forecasted £20bn. Despite these financial constraints, Holden’s statements reaffirm the party’s commitment to pursuing tax cuts.
The prospect of Nigel Farage joining the Conservative Party was also discussed, with Holden acknowledging the consideration of an application from Farage based on its merits. This move is seen against the backdrop of recent polling suggesting that Farage’s Reform party could pose a threat to the Tories’ electoral performance.
In conclusion, Holden’s remarks in the News interview provide insights into the Conservative Party’s future plans, including the intention to implement additional tax cuts, considerations for new party members, and the potential reappointment of key figures. The political landscape, financial constraints, and internal dynamics are all factors contributing to the party’s strategic decisions in the lead-up to the upcoming election.