Theresa May has signalled taxes will have to rise in order to help pay for increased funding for the English NHS.
The Prime Minister’s announcement that the NHS south of the border is to benefit from a funding increase of £20bn a year was tempered by news that income taxes will probably have to rise as a result.
The pledge puts the UK Conservative leader at odds with her Scottish lieutenant who has persistently attacked the SNP over the issue of tax rises. Ruth Davidson has claimed tax rises will damage the economy.
Speaking in 2017, the Scottish Conservative leader said: “Jacking up taxes on working families and businesses in Scotland will damage the Government’s stated objective of getting the economy growing faster and of bringing in more revenue,”
Davidson added. “The biggest concern here is over the message that tax rises send out about Scotland’s reputation as a place which values ambition, that welcomes business and that want to grow.”
The Conservative MSP has also taken to social media to attack income tax rises, claiming the SNP was taking money out of the pay packets of nurses. Davidson’s opposition to income tax rises and her attack on the SNP has also received widespread coverage within Scotland’s main stream media, including the BBC.
Speaking in May this year at the Policy Exchange in London, Ruth Davidson signalled her own softening of her stance on income tax when she gave a speech in which she suggested NHS funding should take priority over tax breaks for high earners.
She said: “My view is this: the UK Government has acted to reduce the tax burden on working families. It has honoured its promise to do so. Raising the income tax threshold has reduced taxes for millions of UK workers and has taken thousands out of taxation altogether.
“But the UK government has a choice to make. And, if that choice is between extra spending on the NHS or introducing further tax breaks beyond those already promised, I choose the NHS.”
However Davidson stopped short of advocating income tax should rise in order to pay for the NHS.
The speech enjoyed significant coverage across the Scottish media with Davidson portrayed as taking on Theresa May. The Policy Exchange speech also witnessed the Scottish Conservative leader launch another attack on independence, which featured on Reporting Scotland.
Many Scottish political observers will be interested to see if the media shows the same level of interest in Davidson now that her UK party leader appears to favour an income tax policy the Scottish Conservative leader has vociferously attacked via that same media.
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