Boris blasts Brown's "economically illiterate" 50p tax band as he gears up to paint himself as a very independent Mayor of London
- Boris lists some of the wealth creators leaving Britain, partly because of the 50p tax band.
- He sees it as a reversal of the Thatcherite reforms that made London a world capital for law, finance, advertising and other service industries.
- He notes that Britain's top rate of tax will be higher than our major competitors and up to 25,000 top earners may flee Britain as a result... or never bring their ingenuity to these shores.
- And for what? Avoidance and the brain drain may mean less revenue is collected from the new tax band.
It's all political, the Mayor of London concludes, and amounts to a desperate attempt to prop up Labour's bloated state:
"This Government has spectacularly mismanaged the public finances. It has overseen an explosion in the wage bill of the state, to the point where the average public-sector worker now earns £74 more per week than a private-sector employee, as well as having much better pension and other entitlements."
George Osborne and David Cameron are not prepared to make these arguments although I suspect they don't fundamentally dissent. This side of the election they are not going to let Labour paint them as the friends of the very rich and - on a related front - bankers. Those of us who believe in simpler, lower taxes will have to be patient. Lower and simpler corporate taxation is likely to be a major feature of George Osborne's first few budgets. Central to his vision of a hi-growth Britain is the creation of an environment that will make the UK an attractive headquarters for international business (see James Forsyth and Irwin Stelzer).
Boris meanwhile will continue to set his own political course. He'll fight the 50p tax band, for example, and he'll support a living wage for Londoners, an earned amnesty for migrants and whatever else he thinks is in the interest of the city he leads. He is fully aware that he comes up for election in the middle of what is likely to be the mid-term of a Tory government that will be taking very difficult decisions on public spending. I and CCHQ fully expect him to oppose some of those cuts. He'll campaign for London to get a fairer share of public spending - pointing out the huge subsidy to Scotland while some of the UK's very poorest communities are in London. Boris is a Tory through-and-through but expect him to style himself as even more of an independent once the General Election is over.