“Keir and I have both been very clear – and we are clear – that we have no plans whatsoever to raise income tax.”
That’s what Labour’s shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, said on BBC Radio 4 yesterday morning.
But despite her claim, her boss Keir Starmer was rather less clear on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday.
The journalist asked the Labour leader: “Your shadow chancellor has said this morning that Labour will not be increasing income tax, period. Is that right?” Mr Starmer replied: “She said we’re not considering increasing income tax, or she’s not, at the moment”.
A few seconds later, he added: “We are looking at tax, nothing is off the table”.
In the course of their exchange, Mr Starmer said that income tax rises were not being looked at “currently”, but appeared to leave open the possibility of doing so in the coming years.
He said on two occasions that “we don’t know what the state of the national finances will be” as we go into the next general election.
Later in the interview, Andrew Marr put it to him that “the shadow chancellor can tell the Sunday Times that you are not going to raise income tax, but the leader of the Labour party sitting here can’t repeat those words.” (Ms Reeves had told the broadsheet: “I don’t have any plans to increase the rates of income tax”.)
Mr Starmer responded: “What Rachel Reeves said is that she’s not currently considering income tax, and that is fine. But what I am saying is that, as we go into the election, we will apply the principles that we have set out to the situation as it arises.”
Channel 4 News spoke to Ms Reeves yesterday lunchtime – after her Radio 4 interview – and she told us: “I’ve been very clear that I have no plans whatsoever to increase income tax”.
The Labour Party was contacted for comment.
Labour’s shadow chancellor said yesterday morning that she and Keir Starmer had been “very clear” that “we have no plans whatsoever to raise income tax”.
However, Mr Starmer himself has been rather more equivocal. While he says it’s not “currently” being looked at, he maintains that “nothing is off the table” and seems to leave open the possibility of revisiting the issue before the next general election once we know more about the “state of the national finances”.