Osborne should have cut tax rate to 40p, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson yesterday entered the final straight in the battle to become Mayor of London with an appeal for further tax cuts and a jibe at his colleagues in Government who he fears may be damaging his chances of winning a second term.

Mr Johnson used an interview ahead of Thursday's poll to signal that he believes George Osborne should have gone further in his budget to cut the top rate of tax back to 40p.

The contest for what is arguably the second most important job in British politics has turned into a question of whether the capital's voters go for the party or the personality.

Labour strategists are desperately hoping that their lead in national opinion polls will carry the day for Ken Livingstone. The Tories hope that the popularity of Mr Johnson will buck the national trend and see him re-elected in what is otherwise expected to be a grim week for the Government.

Across the country, Conservative and Liberal Democrat council candidates are expected to pay the penalty for the Government's current unpopularity, In London, however, Labour party managers frankly admit that Livingstone is still behind.

"A month ago, I wouldn't have given Ken a chance. I still think Boris will probably win, but it will be close and Ken might do it," one London MP said.

In an effort to distance himself from the Tories, Mr Johnson said he was prepared to fight with ministers over getting the best deal for the capital.

"We've saved Crossrail [the new railway in London] from the jaws of death – aka George Osborne; we got £3 billion for housing budgets in London. I've been able to get the budgets to keep police numbers high and we're going to do this for the foreseeable future."

Asked what were the key values driving his campaign, Mr Johnson said: "Freedom, democracy, taxpayer value and building up the sense of neighbourliness and duty towards each other — how's that?"

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