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Labour goads Lib Dem MPs over VAT hike

HARRIET Harman launched a scathing attack on the Liberal Democrats yesterday, claiming they had “sacrificed everything they ever stood for to ride in ministerial cars”.

The acting Labour leader said George Osborne’s Budget would “throw people out of work” and hurt economic growth, as she sought to paint the Lib Dems as spineless coalition partners that had abandoned their values.

She slammed the deferred hike in VAT to 20 per cent, and mocked the Lib Dems for claiming the Tories were planning a “VAT bombshell” before the election.

Harman said: “How could they support everything they fought against? How could they let down everyone who voted for them? How could they let the Tories so exploit them?”

She added: “Twenty two Liberal Democrat ministerial jobs have been bought at the costs of tens of thousands of other people losing theirs.”

Few of business secretary Vince Cable’s flagship economic policies have made it into the Budget. The Lib Dems had wanted to raise the income tax threshold to £10,000, but the chancellor increased it to £7,475.

And the hike in the top rate of capital gains tax to 28 per cent is considerably lower than the 40p to 50p that Cable championed in the run up to the election.

Labour are hoping they can win disaffected Lib Dem supporters and create splits in the coalition by hammering the leadership for backing Osborne’s austerity measures.

Last night, sources close to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg dismissed suggestions the party had “sold out”.

An aide said there were several key measures that would not have made it into the Budget if the Tories were flying solo, including the hike in the income tax threshold, higher CGT, a unilateral banking levy, guaranteed increases in the state pension, and higher tax credits for the very poor.