David Cameron has vowed that if the Conservative Party wins the General Election there will be no rise in VAT.
The Prime Minister made the announcement at the last Prime Minister's Questions of this Parliament. The surprise move will head off the Labour charge that the Tories will hike VAT if they return to government.
Cameron's pledge matches that of the shadow chancellor Ed Balls. At a speech in Birmingham just two days ago, Balls said:
I can announce a clear pledge to the British people. The next Labour government will not raise VAT.
On the first question, Ed Miliband asked "so here's a straight question, will he rule out a rise in VAT?". Cameron rose to the dispatch box and shot back "he's right, straight answers deserve straight questions and the answer's yes". The PM muddled his response - but it was clear to all what he meant.
Here's the moment when Cameron stole Miliband's thunder:
Cameron clearly put Miliband on the back foot. The Labour leader switched tack to ask about Tory spending plans for the next three years. Cameron brushed the question aside and asked the Miliband "now that I have ruled out VAT, will he rule out national insurance."
In 2010, the Coalition government raised VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent. The vow not to hike VAT will somewhat shoot Labour's fox as fears over VAT increases, which has always proved a rich target for Labour's election strategists.
On Monday, Ed Balls said:
Labour can make this manifesto commitment for the next Parliament because, unlike the Tories, all of our promises are fully funded and paid for.
Only a few days ago, Labour released this poster: