Lib Dem leader Tim Farron says hiking corporation tax isn't inconsistent with being "the pro-business party"

Mark Sands
Follow Mark
Liberal Democrats Launch Their Election Manifesto
The UK will head to the polls on 8 June. (Source: Getty)

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has defended his party's proposals to hike corporation tax after claiming that his party could best represent the interests of business.

Farron has repeatedly accused Prime Minister Theresa May of taking business support “for granted”, last year claiming the Lib Dems have become the “free market, free trade, pro-business party”.

But last week, the party revealed that it would actually increase corporation taxes to "ensure those with the highest incomes and wealth are making a fair contribution".

Under the Lib Dems, corporation tax would increase from 17 per cent to 20 per cent.

Speaking to City A.M. Farron denied the stance was inconsistent, noting the increased bills for business would go toward education, training and apprenticeships.

“It's about making choices. We have go to make wise decisions in a time like this, and few things matter more than a well-trained, educated workforce,” Farron said.

"You have priorities and choices. Ours are to keep corporation tax at the level it was during the coalition."

Read More: The burning issue business needs the new government to prioritise

The Lib Dems are also pushing for the British Business Bank to provide more capital for growing firms, and for a £100 weekly start-up allowance for entrepreneurs.

Farron admitted the latter represents limited funding, but maintained it is enough to help start-ups “in the first six months”.

“We could provide more, but we have to be irresponsible. It has to be an offer that is practical and deliverable,” he said.

It comes as 53 business leaders write in The Times to protest the decision to withdraw from the Single Market ahead of Brexit talks.

Read More: Editor's Notes: Pity the Lib Dems - barely keeping their heads above water

“British business can change the course of the country, and they need to send a clear message to Theresa May that they will not be taken for granted,” Farron said.

The Lib Dem leader is set to visit the London constituencies of Twickenham and Vauxhall today, where he is optimistic of unseating a Conservative Remainer and a Labour Brexiteer, respectively.

In Twickenham, Tania Mathias defeated former business secretary Vince Cable, securing a majority of just 2,017 in 2015. Labour's Kate Hoey was elected in Vauxhall with a majority of 12,708, making her seat the greater challenge.

However, Farron maintained the prospects in Vauxhall remain “very positive”.

"It looks very good and if you walk around the constituency we are very clearly winning the postal war. We are certainly competitive."

Read More: Farron's Lib Dems say they can raise £1bn from cannabis legalisation

Farron's positivity comes in spite of middling performance form the Lib Dems in the recent local elections, where vote share increased but results failed to live up to expectations.

Similarly, the party has struggled to record any kind of significant upward movement in polls with election day rapidly closing in.

Indeed, bookmakers Ladbrokes today priced Farron at 3/1 to lose his own seat.

Farron denied feeling the pressure, citing the Twickenham and Vauxhall seats as potential wins.

“There's two and a bit weeks to go and I think the very clear sense is that if you look at the geography of the country, we will also pick up seats off people like the SNP,” he added.

Related articles