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Public will see through Budget tax cut ‘swindle’, says Lib Dem leader

Public will see through Budget tax cut ‘swindle’, says Lib Dem leader

Any tax cuts in Wednesday’s Budget will be a “swindle”, Sir Ed Davey has said on a visit to Jeremy Hunt’s constituency as the Liberal Democrats look to unseat the Chancellor.

The Liberal Democrat leader made a stop in Witley, Surrey, the day before the Budget to highlight cuts to GP care and talk up his party’s chances of demolishing the Conservatives’ “Blue Wall”.

He told the PA news agency: “I think the Liberal Democrats are in a prime position to win here and defeat Jeremy Hunt, but also win across Surrey in many seats and across the Blue Wall.

“We’ve shown it in parliamentary by-elections where Liberal Democrats can beat Conservatives in their heartlands, we’ve seen it in council elections, and we go into the next election really excited about the prospect of removing many Conservative MPs.”

Sir Ed Davey visits the Godalming and Ash constituency
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey joined parliamentary candidate Paul Follows in Witley (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Recent polling from Savanta suggests the Liberal Democrats could be on course to win the new Godalming and Ash constituency, where Mr Hunt has chosen to stand after boundary changes split up his South West Surrey seat.

The poll also suggested the NHS was the number one concern for voters in the area, with the Liberal Democrats pointing to a 5.3% cut in real terms to GP funding in Surrey since 2018-19.

Speaking after a visit to a GP surgery in Witley, he called on the Chancellor to reverse cuts to NHS primary care, saying his party had a plan to boost GP services, paid for by raising taxes on banks.

Sir Ed Davey visits the Godalming and Ash constituency
Sir Ed is seek to pile pressure on the Chancellor a day before he delivers the Budget (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Commenting on reports the Chancellor is planning another 2p cut in national insurance, Sir Ed told PA: “We will look at the tax proposals the Conservatives bring in.

“But if they do cut taxes people will know it’s a deception, because they’ve raised income tax by freezing the tax allowances, a sort of a hidden tax rise on millions of people.”

He added: “They may try and put on a swindle, but I think people will see through it. This is a tax-raising Conservative Government.”

While his party seeks to challenge Mr Hunt in Surrey, Sir Ed himself is facing a challenge from a former sub-postmistress in his own Kingston and Surbiton seat.

Yvonne Tracey, who worked at the New Malden post office for 30 years, has said she will stand for election in protest at Sir Ed’s handling of the Horizon scandal while he was post office minister in the coalition government.

But Sir Ed told PA he was “very proud” to represent Kingston and Surbiton and was “looking forward to fighting that election, whoever the opposition puts up against us”.