UK’s Starmer says ‘wealth creation’ priority in election pitch to voters

Labour Party leader rules out any rise in income tax, for national insurance or VAT.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has pledged not to raise taxes if elected prime minister [Stefan Rousseau/Pool via AFP]

The UK’s opposition leader Keir Starmer has pledged to make wealth creation the top priority of his government in a pre-election pitch to voters.

Speaking ahead of the release of the Labour Party’s election manifesto on Thursday, Starmer said he would prioritise economic growth and not raise taxes.

“We will not raise tax on working people. That means no tax rises for income tax, for national insurance, for VAT [value-added tax],” Starmer said on Wednesday during a leaders’ debate hosted by Sky News.

“The manifesto tomorrow will be a manifesto, a plan, for wealth creation,” Starmer added. “Now you may not hear a Labour leader say that very often, but for me, that is the most important thing.”

Starmer, a former human rights lawyer-turned-prosecutor, is widely expected to win next month’s election after 14 years of Conservative Party rule.

Opinion polls have for months shown centre-left Labour to be leading the Conservatives by about 20 points.

Still, Starmer, 61, has sought to assure voters that Labour will govern with a pro-business and pro-growth agenda, after Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s most left-wing leader in decades, presided over its worst performance since 1935 at the last election.

As well as pledging not to raise personal taxes, Labour has ruled out raising corporation tax and said its plans do not require a hike in capital gains tax, although it has not committed to leaving the rate unchanged.

“I want to do things differently. I want to grow our economy. I accept that previous Labour leaders have sort of pulled the tax lever every single time and driven up spending,” Starmer said.

The UK has been among the worst-performing major economies in recent years.

The country slipped into recession in the last three months of 2023, with gross domestic product (GDP) declining 0.3 percent, following a 0.1 percent contraction in the previous quarter.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has forecast the UK to grow 0.4 percent this year, slower than any other G7 economy apart from Germany.

Source: Al Jazeera