Portillo reaffirms his allegiance to Hague's policy of tax cutting

The gap between the two main parties on tax widened yesterday after Michael Portillo reaffirmed the Tories' pledge to cut taxes over the lifetime of the next Parliament.

Contrary to reports that he was preparing to ditch the Tories' tax-guarantee policy, the shadow Chancellor said he would stick by it at the next election. Labour immediately stepped up its attack on the Opposition's "irresponsible and politically driven" guarantee to reduce the overall tax burden over the lifetime of a Parliament.

Mr Portillo's supporters have indicated in recent weeks that he wants to drop or substantially amend the policy, because it fails to take into account economic circumstances. Last week it was claimed that the Tories' economic sub-committee was to meet to discuss plans to redraft the policy so that taxes would be cut over the economic cycle instead of the lifetime of a parliament.

But in a sign that William Hague has acted swiftly to rein in his potential leadership rival, Mr Portillo yesterday went on record to commit himself fully to the tax guarantee.

He brushed aside increasingly critical scrutiny of the flagship policy to insist it was compatible with increases in health and public spending.

He denied that the guarantee was "economically illiterate" and it still stood, he said, "endorsed and strengthened" by Gordon Brown's figures unveiled in last month's Budget. "That is the guarantee we gave; it's the guarantee that we have and that I stick to," Mr Portillo said on GMTV's Sunday Programme. "It is a guarantee of honesty, because what we've been noticing under this government is that they were claiming to be cutting taxation, because they cut certain taxes - but in fact the total burden of taxes is rising."

Mr Portillo said the Chancellor's own growth predictions showed that in addition to tax cuts, increases in spending on health and education could be afforded. "On that basis I am happy to say we would be able to afford increases in health and education spending and we would be able to bring down the burden of taxation during the next parliament."

Whether the guarantee would stand beyond the next parliament would depend on future economic conditions, he added. "I think it's actually only sensible to give commitments for one parliament and that's what we would do."

Mr Portillo also said that he was looking at the possibility of a future Tory government using independent advisers to improve economic transparency.

He said: "I'm considering an idea of having independent advisers who would look in on government and would say: 'Chancellor, whatever you may think, we are now in the mid-point of economic growth, or at the top of economic growth or whatever it may be, therefore you should be putting away this amount of money, you should be saving for the future'."

Andrew Smith, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said Mr Portillo's vow to cut taxes if a Tory government were returned at the general election "does not add up and even his own colleagues believe it's economically illiterate".

He added: "Michael Portillo showed ... why you can't trust the Tories on tax or public services. He locked the Tories into a politically driven tax guarantee to provide tax privileges for the few, irrespective of the economic circumstances.

"The Tories would deprive the NHS and education of the resources they need - and which Labour is delivering - and their plans would return Britain to boom and bust."

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker