During Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir Starmer said the Tories had “crashed the economy” as he urged Rishi Sunak to abolish tax exemption for wealthy foreigners living in the UK in a thinly veiled reference to his wife’s “non dom” status. He also challenged the Prime Minister over leaked footage of Mr Sunak at a garden party in Tunbridge Wells describing how as chancellor he had channelled funding away from deprived areas to those that were better off. ITV presenter Robert Peston questioned Angela Rayner on whether the swipe was a “dog whistle” for Labour.
The host asked: “One of the attacks was on Rishi Sunak’s non-dom wife and non-dom tax status.
“Some people say that’s a dog whistle for Labour saying they don’t like rich people. Does Labour like rich people?”
Ms Rayner replied: “We love rich people that pay their taxes! That’s the truth.
“We want people top pay their taxes in the UK.
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“We want a fair process, a fair taxation. We’ve said those with the broadest shoulders should pay a little bit more.”
It comes as Mr Sunak is tearing up Liz Truss’s growth plan and reviewing key spending commitments, including on increasing state pensions in line with soaring inflation, as he delayed the autumn budget.
The new Prime Minister also reimposed the fracking ban in England that his predecessor controversially scrapped and was reconsidering immigration and deregulation plans in a major overhaul.
Mr Sunak brushed off opposition demands for an immediate general election as he pledged to rebuild the public finances in a “fair and compassionate” way and to rectify former prime minister Ms Truss’s “mistakes”.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delayed his Halloween budget setting out the measures to get the UK’s deficit under control to November 17 to take into account the latest economic forecasts.
Downing Street was refusing to commit to key pledges on the triple lock on state pensions and increasing defence spending to 3 percent of GDP by 2030 as Mr Sunak and Mr Hunt complete their review.
Just last week Ms Truss insisted she was “completely committed” to the manifesto pledge on pensions after facing a backlash when No 10 suggested it may be scrapped.
On Wednesday, Mr Sunak’s press secretary refused to “comment ahead of any fiscal statements or budgets” as she declined to say whether payments will increase in April in line with inflation, at more than 10 percent.
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“But what I can say is he has shown through his record as chancellor is that he will do what’s right and compassionate for the most vulnerable,” she said.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth accused Mr Sunak of not being on the side of pensioners struggling through the cost-of-living crisis.
“Rishi Sunak stood on a manifesto in 2019 on a pledge to keep the triple lock. Now he’s threatening that promise to Britain’s retirees,” the Labour MP said.
Ms Truss riled many of her backbench MPs by ending the fracking moratorium, which led to dozens of Tories refusing to back the Government in a night of chaos in the Commons before her resignation.