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Boris Johnson has added a new phrase to the vocabulary of British politics after trying to duck questions about whether he would sanction more tax rises.
The government announced on Tuesday tax hikes for millions of Britons in order to pump an extra £12bn a year into the NHS and social care.
It broke a Conservative manifesto commitment not to do so, a move that encouraged journalists at a Downing Street press conference to repeatedly press the prime minister on his credentials as a low-tax Tory.
After a couple of swerves, the PM said that it was a matter for the chancellor, but added: “I certainly don’t want any more tax rises in this parliament. If you want me to give that emotional commitment, of course that’s the case.”
Boris Johnson gives an "emotional commitment" he's against further tax rises.
— Sophia Sleigh (@SophiaSleigh) September 7, 2021
“Emotional commitment” became an instant classic of the genre.
It joins the vast lexicon that includes a politician who resigns in controversy and says they are “looking forward to spending more time with my family”, or being asked a direct question and pivoting to something completely different by saying “what I would say ...”.
The energy of the response perhaps has more in common with a politico stating that there are “no plans” to do something – which leaves the door open to change direction when some plans magically appear.
In any case, Westminster watchers were not too impressed.
Pressed several times by @BethRigby and others, Johnson point-blank refuses to rule out more tax rises in this Parliament.
Best he could give was "an emotional commitment" he won't. Seriously.
I wonder how HMRC would react to my only making an emotional commitment to pay it.
— Alex Andreou (@sturdyAlex) September 7, 2021
A completely worthless, empty commitment https://t.co/5LDOvdumTJ
— Tim Montgomerie 🇬🇧 (@montie) September 7, 2021
Wonder how many of the public will be reassured by the PM's "emotional commitment" to not putting up taxes? Given he made a *written* commitment not to do so previously..
— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) September 7, 2021
Boris has just offered “emotional commitment” to no more taxes this Parliament. Whatever that means…
— Calgie (@christiancalgie) September 7, 2021
And pretty soon, people were making an “emotional commitment” to the less than glamorous aspects of their real life.
This is a great new euphemism for not actually a committment. I'm going to give an emotional committment to taking the bins out every week. https://t.co/zjlYKhuhso
— Sam Freedman (@Samfr) September 7, 2021
Very disappointed to have been alerted to this phrase only after I’d written up my objectives for the year ahead in my annual appraisal. https://t.co/t3uE6hKIU8
— James Chalmers (@ProfChalmers) September 7, 2021
— Emily (@lostinayr) September 7, 2021
I’m giving an ‘emotional commitment’ to filing https://t.co/lQA6ex2nrt
— emma jacobs (@emmavj) September 7, 2021
I'm giving an emotional commitment to not eat any more Flumps this week. https://t.co/WTrLhmwIoE
— Mike Grant (@Michael_R_Grant) September 7, 2021
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.