British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday vowed that a decade of austerity was firmly in the past as he unveiled his Conservative Party’s 59-page election manifesto ahead of next month’s general election.
Johnson, who already announced a public spending hike upon taking office in July, said his center-right party would make further commitments — worth 10 billion pounds (€11.6 billion, $12.8 billion) over the next four years — if given a third term in power.
Most of the additional budget will be spent on the ailing National Health Service (NHS), which has suffered under the deep austerity imposed by previous Conservative governments since 2010.
As well as higher public spending, the UK leader pledged 23.5 billion pounds worth of “sensible” tax cuts, partly by raising the threshold before workers pay social security contributions.
Two months earlier, the prime minister pledged to upgrade 20 hospitals, recruit 20,000 police officers and increase spending on state schools.
Triple tax lock
Johnson, who was speaking at an election event in the West Midlands on Sunday, said the Conservatives would neither raise income tax, sales tax (VAT) nor social security rates in what he branded a triple tax lock.
He contrasted his plans with the radical proposals put forward by the main opposition Labour Party, which has pledged to boost public spending by 83 billion pounds over the next four years and to hike taxes for the country’s wealthiest residents.
Johnson, who took over predecessor Theresa May’s minority administration in the summer, also vowed to get his new Brexit deal in front of the country’s Parliament before Christmas.
The passing of the new accord is most likely if the Conservatives win a majority in the December 12 vote.
Britain’s exit from the bloc has, once again, been delayed until January 31 following several failed parliamentary votes, which forced Johnson to call the new election more than two years early
Most important vote in years
The British leader said the country’s third election in 4 1/2 years was “the most critical in modern memory” and that the British public had the opportunity to “get Brexit done” to allow the country to move on with other priorities.
He insisted the revised deal will allow Britain to regain control over its laws, money and immigration policy — the scale of migration from eastern Europe since 2004 was one of the key factors behind the Brexit referendum vote in 2016.
Johnson’s chief rival, left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, wants to renegotiate a new, softer Brexit agreement within three months and then, by the end of June, put that to a referendum alongside remaining in the EU. Corbyn would stay neutral during the process.
Conservatives have strong lead
Poll aggregator Britain Elects puts the Conservatives on 42%, ahead of the main opposition Labour Party on 29%, the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats on 15%, the Brexit Party on 6% and the Greens on 3%.
However, Johnson’s victory is by no means in the bag. May had a similarly huge lead ahead of the 2017 general election, which evaporated.