Boris Johnson’s tax gamble is high stakes – but can Labour take advantage if it backfires?

Editorial: The second half of this parliament, paradoxically, will be much tougher for the prime minister than his first two arduous years in office

Wednesday 08 September 2021 21:30

Taxes, debt and public spending are all at – or near – post-war highs, for good reasons and bad, and we do not hear very much these days about “rolling back the frontiers of the state”.

Sajid Javid still insists on calling himself a “Thatcherite” but in Margaret Thatcher's eyes, Kenneth Clarke was, in his day in the 1990s, “a very good chancellor… a very good Labour chancellor”. We can only guess what she might make of the current cabinet’s evident enthusiasm for tax and spend, shredding manifesto pledges, chucking subsidies around and executing policy U-turns at a dizzying rate.

To borrow a catchphrase of the Iron Lady, Boris Johnson U-turns when he wants to. Older readers may recall a time when he was a tax-cutting, pro-EU, progressive sounding mayor of London. It is no mystery that there is no such thing as “Johnsonism”.

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