The shadow chancellor warned that the Tories’ EU election mauling by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party would lead to a further lurch to the right.


(Image: Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror)
(Image: Ian Vogler/Daily Mirror)

The Tory leadership contest will lead to a “race to the bottom” on tax and spending as rivals jostle to win over right-wing party members, John McDonnell has warned.

The shadow chancellor warned that the Tories’ EU election mauling by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party would lead to a further lurch to the right.

Hardliner Dominic Raab has already promised a 5p tax cut which Labour says could cost £25bn a year – more than the extra money the Tories have promised the NHS.

“This could only be raised by cuts to services or extra borrowing. After nine years of austerity, most of our public services are on their knees,” Mr McDonnell said.

The senior Labour MP attacked leading Tory leadership candidates, describing Boris Johnson as “politically promiscuous” and saying he was likely to follow suit on tax cuts.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock had been one of the architects of austerity under George Osborne while foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt’s switch against No Deal was simply to “try to distinguish himself” from others in the crowded field.

In an interview with the Mirror, Mr McDonnell said: “We’re facing the worst of all possible worlds, with Tory leadership candidates vying to cut income tax and at the same time having a cuts auction on our public services.”

He suggested that the Tory rivals would spend the next two months jostling for the keys to No 10 and arguing about issues which were “totally out of touch with the reality” of most people’s lives.”Every Tory leadership candidate will want to pander to the right in the party associations themselves. The results in the European and local government elections will absolutely panic them into shifting even further to the right,” he said.

“The issue of tax cuts will become – I think – central to them appealing to some of the right-wing elements within the individual associations.”

But his initial focus was on hardline Brexiteer Dominic Raab whom he accused of “firing the starting gun on a race to the bottom” with his tax cutting pledge.

“It looks like quite a few of the others will be singing from the same hymn sheet, especially Boris Johnson,” he said.

He criticised the former Brexit Secretary’s plan to make savings by merging Whitehall departments.

“Nine years of public cuts up until now have not produced what they have described as efficient savings.”

It comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond warned that any tax cuts would play “fast and loose” with the Tories’ reputation for economic competence and would be “very dangerous” if funded by borrowing.

Labour has said it would borrow to invest for the long-term, rather than for day to day expenditure.

In a fierce attack on frontrunner Mr Johnson, the shadow chancellor said: “He is politically promiscuous, he will say whatever it takes to get votes.

He will tack to the far right on a number of issues.

“He’s been a traditional tax cutter no matter what the impact on public service. You would not associate consistency with Boris Johnson.”

He accused the Tory big beast of being “completely untrustworthy” for promising to lie down in front of a bulldozer at Heathrow in Mr McDonnell’s constituency then disappearing to Afghanistan to avoid the airport extension vote.

And he was scathing of Mr Johnson’s record as Mayor, citing his never-built Garden Bridge, the redundant water cannon and his failure to tacke the housing crisis.

Pippa Crerar Daily Mirror 29 May

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