Stamp duty shake-up could mean sellers paying
Ken Clarke: I’ll be PM!
SAJID Javid is considering a major shake-up of stamp duty, switching the burden from buyers to sellers.
The change would help first-time buyers get on the property ladder, and mean bigger properties would be within reach of expanding families.
However, those looking to downsize would be hit with a larger tax bill after benefiting from rising house prices, the Times reported. The plan is part of a raft of changes due for consideration for the upcoming Budget later this year.
Mr Javid, in his first interview as Chancellor, said: ‘I’m a low-tax guy. I want to see simpler taxes.’
He is said to have kept open the prospect of sellers being liable for stamp duty rather than buyers amid growing concern over the London property market. Asked about the proposed tax change, he said: ‘I’m looking at various options.’
He also pledged that those on the lowest wages would be the first to see tax cuts – but he suggested higher earners would be in line to benefit too.
He told The Times: ‘Wait and see for the Budget. But it wouldn’t be any surprise that I think taxes should be efficient. We want to set them at a rate where we are trying to maximise revenue, and that doesn’t always mean that you have the highest tax rate possible.’
Mr Javid had suggested tax cuts for higher earners during his bid to become prime minister. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s campaign proposal to raise the higher income tax threshold from £ 50,000 to £80,000 was heavily criticised.
Now in post, Mr Javid said the ‘ lowest paid’ had to be taken into account when looking at tax cuts. ‘If you are going to have tax cuts, I think you should always be thinking about the lowest paid, and about how you can try and help them,’ he said.
‘There are many ways to try and help people that are facing day-to-day challenges, and you’ll have to be very conscious in a budget to make sure that you can try to focus on those that need it most.’
Mr Javid admitted he was considering redrawing the ‘fiscal rules’ followed by predecessor Philip Hammond, saying Britain has some of the ‘lowest rates on government debt this country has ever seen’. ‘I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t thinking seriously about how do we use [that opportunity],’ he said.
The Chancellor said he had yet to decide whether the Budget will be before the October 31 Brexit date.
Mr Javid admitted that there were concerns about the global economy, and that recent trends suggested a looming recession. He said: ‘If trade in the US economy goes into recession, that’s going to have a global impact, given its influence on the global economy. There’s the US-China trade dispute, which will impact us all if it goes the wrong way.’
But he went on: ‘That said, for us, right here and now, I think where we can take some comfort is the fundamentals of our own economy are very strong.’ Mr Javid also added that the Treasury under his control was now fully on board with what he called the Brexit reset. He said: ‘The Treasury itself, will be, actually is 100 per cent behind the reset in our approach to Brexit.’
KEN Clarke said last night he would be willing to become caretaker Prime Minister to stop Britain leaving the EU without a deal on October 31.
The Tory former Chancellor declared that a government of national unity could be necessary because he believes the country is now facing a crisis similar to the 1930s recession and two world wars.
MPs who want to stop a No Deal Brexit are considering ousting Boris Johnson from Downing Street through a vote of no-confidence, but disagree on who should replace him. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has put himself forward but he has been rejected by Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, who has suggested an alternative figure such as Mr Clarke or Harriet Harman.
Last night Mr Clarke said he had been away on holiday for a fortnight and not following the news, but had now returned and would be willing to step in. He told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: ‘If it was the only way in which the plain majority in the House of Commons that is opposed to a No Deal exit could find a way forward, I actually said to Jo when she managed to raise me when I was on holiday that I wouldn’t object to it, if that was in the judgment of people, the only way forward. A government of national unity is just one of the things that might be called for.
‘It’s not inconceivable – I mean we’re in a similar situation to 1931 and rather wildly to the two world wars when the same thing happened.
‘But there’s an awful lot to be gone through before then and I haven’t been taking part in any talks with anybody for the last fortnight. I’ve been on the phone to one or two people in the last couple of days just to find out what the devil’s going on.’
His suggestion was met with a stinging rebuke last night from Nigel Evans, a member of the 1922 committee of Tory MPs.
He told the PM programme: ‘We’ve filled the vacancy with Boris Johnson and so I really don’t know what Ken is talking about. It does seem to be Westminster meets La La Land because it’s not as if these ideas are half-baked, I really don’t think they’ve been anywhere near an oven.’ It came as:
Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, one of the Tory MPs looking to stop a No Deal Brexit, insisted he would not back Mr Corbyn becoming a caretaker PM – despite agreeing to meet him to discuss the issue;
Mr Corbyn savaged Miss Swinson after she rejected his plan to lead an emergency government to block a No Deal Brexit; and
The Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, urged the Liberal Dem
‘Westminster meets La La Land’
ocrats to seriously reconsider Mr Corbyn’s offer.
Yesterday Mr Clarke, the Father of the House, said Mr Corbyn would have to stand aside for a government of national unity.
‘What I just heard him saying is constitutionally wrong and... the precedents of the three national governments I’ve described, in no case was the national government led by the leader of the largest political party,’ he added.
‘Now, he obviously is the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament – he’s the person who hopes to win an election. Personally I think it’s very unlikely he can win an election but he can’t just say, “well if there’s any other government it has got to be me” – that is, I’m afraid, wrong, factually and constitutionally.
‘He’ll have to do what similar party leaders did on previous occasions and let somebody else lead it because I think it is the only way to get a multiparty group to come together.’
Mr Clarke said his government of national unity would be a ‘singleissue, short-term government’ with a policy to ‘sort out Brexit’.
‘I think it would seek an extension, actually put together a mandate for discussions that the majority of the House of Commons approved of, and a mandate that the Europeans would not resist – such as staying in the customs union, staying in regulatory alignment, keeping our free flows of trade and investment, protecting our jobs and our key sectors of business and agriculture in this country.
‘Then, once it had got that underway, it would call an election probably or resign and let’s see if Parliament could form a party government of any kind that took it all forward and started resuming other politics.’
Mr Clarke’s comments came as others rejected the idea of Jeremy Corbyn becoming a caretaker PM.
Mr Grieve said he would not back such a move following a backlash to the idea from party colleagues, while David Gauke – the ex-Justice Secretary who also opposes No Deal – tweeted: ‘If anyone thinks the answer is Jeremy Corbyn, I think they’re probably asking the wrong question.’
Mr Clarke is our longest-serving MP having being first elected in 1970. As well as Chancellor, he had served as Health Secretary, Education Secretary and Justice Secretary.
But his pro-European stance put him at odds with many in his party and he was unsuccessful in three attempts to become Tory leader.
Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng said he believed that at 79 Mr Clarke is too old to become Prime Minister.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘ I’m a great fan of Ken Clarke... he’s been around for a long time, he’s very experienced.
‘[But] all of this seems to me like speculation. I think we have a Prime Minister and we’ll deliver on the mandate and the referendum of 2016.’
Boris Johnson is expected to fly to Berlin and Paris next week for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron ahead of a G7 summit in Biarritz next weekend.
Meanwhile, real issues such as tackling endemic violent crime – culminating this week in the shocking death of PC Andrew Harper – and social care reform must await a Government not looking over its shoulder.
But when will that be? The real concerns of the public are taking a back seat as Brexit sucks the life out of our national debate.
Does this deep dissatisfaction concern our elected representatives?
Hardly. They are more interested in getting back to the Commons tearoom to resume plotting. Why consider ‘ boring’ British Steel and its ‘tiresome’ jobs when you can play Fantasy Cabinet in a theoretical ‘government of national unity’?
A pitiful assemblage of Marxists, Nationalists, Lib Dems and delinquent Tory Remainers propose this lash-up as a way of ‘bringing the country together’.
Yet its sole purpose is to frustrate the 2016 vote to quit the European Union. This is the real coup being planned over Brexit – not Boris Johnson’s determination to control the parliamentary timetable.
Summer madness has gripped once-sane Tory MPs like Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve, who have hinted at a Faustian pact with Jeremy Corbyn to overthrow their own Government. Now, we hear, they have drawn back. Why, they’ll settle for Kenneth Clarke or Harriet Harman instead!
It’s all baloney, of course. Not least because even Mr Corbyn is not daft enough to cede primacy in a rainbow government.
And if by some miracle this ridiculous project flies, what would it produce? Months, maybe years, of debilitating Brexit turmoil.
Rejected: Mr Corbyn yesterday