Danny Alexander Rules Out Tax Cut For Rich
The Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury has ruled out further tax rate cuts for the rich saying they would take place "over my dead body".
Danny Alexander's comments will fuel the coalition row over further reducing the amount of tax those earning over £150,000-a-year pay.
The Government has already reduced the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p and David Cameron last week refused to rule out cutting it further.
However, Danny Alexander has said the current 45p rate for high earners was the correct level, effectively ruling out a pre-election drop.
"I think it is right at 45%. I wouldn't go to cutting below 45%," he said.
"I would say that would happen over my dead body."
In an interview with the Daily Mirror, he added: "If you ask me would I cut the top rate below 45p, the answer is 'no'. In this Parliament we will not allow that to happen."
However, London mayor Boris Johnson said it was inconceivable that the Conservatives would go into the next election without a pledge to lower the higher rate of tax.
He said: "The last thing I want to see is a pointless sacrifice from the Liberal Democrats, let alone the dead body of Danny Alexander.
"Sooner or later there will have to be a new Conservative manifesto and I can't believe we are going to go into an election on a campaign to keep our tax rates higher."
Asked if that meant he accepted it could not happen until after 2015, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Who can say what will happen to Danny Alexander? Stranger things have happened at sea.
"I don't think that it is reasonable always to keep UK tax rates higher than those of competitor countries.
"UK income tax is now higher than the average in the EU. That never used to be the case. I don't see why it should be the case for the long term and I see no reason why we shouldn't bring it down."
Last week at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Cameron refused three times to rule out a reduction in the top rate of tax when pressed by the Labour leader Ed Miliband.
He said: "The fact is, under this government, the richest will pay more in income tax in every year than any year when you were in office. That is the truth."
He added that the shadow chancellor's decision to return to the 50p was "disastrous".
Chris Leslie, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: "Danny Alexander seems to have forgotten that just 10 months ago he cut the top rate of tax for the top 1% of earners.
"And that was after saying anybody who wanted to do this was living in 'cloud cuckoo land'.
"After cutting taxes for the richest while breaking their election promise by raising VAT on everybody else, nobody will believe a word the Lib Dems say on tax."
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