Redwood indicates Tories will cut taxes

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John Redwood has given the strongest hint yet that the Conservatives would include tax cuts in its manifesto in the next general election.

John Redwood has given the strongest hint yet that the Conservatives would include tax cuts in its manifesto in the next general election.

The shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation, who was promoted to the Tory front bench last week, has indicated that the manifesto will pledge cash for health, education and the police and also to cut tax if the party took power.

In an interview with The Independent, Mr Redwood, who will attend his first Shadow Cabinet meeting next week, said: "I don't think you need to choose between the two. You have got to talk about taxes in your manifesto and public services in your manifesto."

His intervention will fuel the debate about Conservative commitment to public services and renew accusations from Labour that the Tories want to cut public funding for health and education to deliver tax cuts.

But Mr Redwood, who has long been in favour of cutting the tax burden, said the pledges could be delivered if wasteful government spending was cut. Labour has argued it would be impossible to deliver tax cuts without robbing the NHS and schools of funding. But the MP for Wokingham said that he was "not sure we are going to make a choice" between pumping cash into education, health and the police and tax cuts.

"There will be scope for tax cuts I am sure. But we are not making promises of a specific kind at this juncture. We wish to complete the work on reviewing the total cost," he said.

"We have a number of priorities for redirecting money because there are not enough teachers, policemen, nurses for example, but I am sure over the lifetime of the Conservative government the savings will build up and we will return to being the low tax party that we are."

Mr Redwood's intervention on tax will renew speculation that Michael Howard is planning to return to the core Tory issues of Europe and tax at the general election in a desperate bid to bolster his party's lacklustre performance in the polls.

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