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Johnson refuses to accept tax burden will rise under Tories

Boris Johnson has refused to accept that the overall tax burden would rise under Conservative manifesto plans – despite the fact that the party says so quite openly in its costings documents. He was asked about it after the Conservatives released a briefing saying that a Tory budget in February would “cut taxes for hardworking families”. When reporters put it to him that the overall tax burden was set to rise in the first Tory budget according to CCHQ’s own figures (mostly because a corporation tax cut has been abandoned, and that counts as a tax rise), Johnson claimed not to be aware of this. He told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg: “We’re cutting taxes on national insurance contributions and on business rates, and I’m certainly not aware of the data you describe. We’re cutting taxes. And in our first budget we propose to do more to cut taxes.”

It would have been reasonable to say there is a difference between personal taxes going down and the overall taxes going up. But he did not, and instead he implied the journalists were wrong. Later, the Conservative party had to issue what amounted to a clarification – always a sign that a media appearance has not gone smoothly.

PM declines to do pre-election interviews

Johnson has refused to commit to doing an interview with Andrew Neil. Asked about this at his Q&A, he did not say he would refuse to do the interview, but he gave the strong impression that it is never going to happen. It later emerged that he won’t do a sit-down interview with ITV’s Julie Etchingham either. Jeremy Corbyn has given interviews to both Neil and Etchingham – although both generated multiple negative headlines, which of course explains why Johnson is evading this level of scrutiny. Read more

Also Read: UK could drop plans to tax tech firms in rush to secure US trade deal