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Sir Keir’s gamble that the Chancellor will announce a string of tax rises in his Budget today is backfiring, as ‘alienated Corbynites’ use his position to undermine his leadership, Express.co.uk was told. It comes as Mr Sunak looks set to hike corporation tax, which has caused controversy both in Labour and the Conservative Party. He is widely tipped to announce further measures to help sustain the level of support given to Britons throughout the pandemic.
Sir Keir and Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds have outright rejected Mr Sunak’s plans for an immediate hike on corporation tax.
This has stirred backlash against the Labour leader in a party that has historically backed tax increases to help society’s neediest.
What have been described as the “hyper-Corbynites” have especially taken aim at Sir Keir, according to Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham.
He told Express.co.uk that while the Labour leader might be justified in his stance on the tax rises, he has nonetheless caused frustration by “betting” on what the Chancellor will do.
The Labour leader has as a result found himself in “turbulence”.
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Professor Fielding said: “Starmer’s speech a few weeks ago was exactly aimed at this Budget – he said we’re at a fork in the road.
“He’s assuming the Conservatives will start to row back on all of this spending, and he’s betting that as we move further away from the impact of Covid to how we’re going to run the new economy in front of us, that the Tories will begin a new austerity.
“But in terms of his opposition to immediate corporation tax hikes, yes, there’s a lot of frustration in the Labour Party.
“A lot of it has been stoked up by alienated Corbynies, and they’re looking for reasons to attack Starmer.
“And of course, his position in the polls is stalling and perhaps declining because people are looking forward to the end of Covid, the vaccination, people are feeling more optimistic.
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“That has undoubtedly benefited Boris Johnson to Starmer’s detriment.
“Starmer’s had a good time as opposition leader so far, but he’s reached a point of turbulence.”
While the Labour leader has insisted that the Government shouldn’t squeeze corporations any more than they have been, he said Labour was committed to supporting gradual tax increases on some of the country’s biggest money-makers.
Members of his top team were, however, blindsided when he suggested his position on the proposal late last month.
The group of most vocal opponents can be found in some of former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s top-ranking cabinet – John McDonnell, Ian Lavery, Jon Trickett, Richard Burgon and Laura Pidcock, to name a few.
Mr Burgon especially has pitted himself as one of Sir Keir’s biggest critics.
On hearing the news, he took to Twitter to demand a tax on “those that have made super-profits out of this crisis”.
Many note that the problem with this is that a comprehensive corporation tax will not only target those companies that have made handsome profits during the pandemic, but also those that have suffered.
This has led many to suggest a windfall tax be introduced.
Speaking at a recent rally organised by the Labour Assembly Against Austerity, with MPs and trade union general secretaries, Mr Burgon said: “We can’t just sidestep big debates when they happen.
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Anneliese Dodds: The shadow Chancellor accused Sunak of playing politics with the Budget
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‘The tax debacle of the past few days shows that if we continue to do so, then our party will be outflanked by the Tories with their phoney rhetoric of levelling up.
“We can win the argument for a progressive tax system – but only if we make the case.”
Ms Dodds has accused Mr Sunak of playing politics with his Budget.
The Chancellor is expected to increase corporation tax from 19 percent to 25 percent by the end of Parliament in 2024.
However, she has said he will slash this just before the next general election.
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According to The Guardian, Mr Sunak has “bragged he would later cut (corporation tax) in the parliament as a pre-election sweetener”.
Labour are instead calling on the Government to focus on supporting business.
They want Mr Sunak to help create more jobs in a time of mass unemployment.
Ms Dodds told a Bloomberg video conference earlier this week: “Now is not the time for immediate tax rises.
“We’ve been very clear that right now the Chancellor should be focused on promoting jobs, on ensuring that business can keep going, on getting people who are unemployed speedily back into work.”
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Some things have already been made known about the Budget.
The furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September, with more support set to be announced for self-employed workers now eligible for cash grants.
Money will also be given to communities to help buy local pubs to run as community-owned businesses.
The arts will receive an estimated £400million injection, along with money for cricket and football.
Mr Sunak’s Budget announcement will come after Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon.