The Liberal Democrats have dropped their plans to raise income tax by 1p in a bid to woo Conservative voters in so-called blue wall seats during the cost of living crisis.
Leader Sir Ed Davey told the BBC he ruled out tax rises even on the wealthiest as his party seeks to target former Tories who could be persuaded to lend the Lib Dems their vote.
On dropping the 1p policy, which dates back to 1992, he told Radio 4’s Today programme: “There’s a cost of living crisis and the taxes on people have gone up hugely already – indeed income tax is set to rise under Conservative policy for the next few years.”
Davey added: “I just don’t think it would be right to increase taxes… I think the taxes are going up quite a lot already under the Conservatives.”
He also stressed that taxing banks and oil and gas firms could help fund programmes to support the NHS and address the social care crisis.
“Over the next few years you’re seeing a big increase in taxes that are already baked in,” he said. “I think there is a real danger that if we don’t ask those organisations who are doing really well, like the oil and gas companies, like the banks, like the water companies, they have the money.
“And they have been making huge profits in some cases, and it seems to me the fair way of doing it because we do need to grow our economy.
“The Liberal Democrats believe one of the big ways of doing that is to sort out our health crisis so people can get back to work more quickly, and if we do that, let’s do it in a fair way.”
The party is holding its annual conference in Bournemouth and has released a so-called pre-manifesto ahead of a fully costed document closer to the next general election.
But its initial slate of policies, aimed at southern England, focuses on health, including a £5bn social care pledge, improved GP and mental health services, and the environment.
Retaining the pensions triple lock and banning sewage dumping are central pledges.