Johnson defies Cameron on 50p tax

Boris Johnson today called the Government's policy to introduce a 50p tax a “double disaster”. This puts pressure on Cameron and Osborne who say it should stay.

Boris Johnson today called the Government’s policy to introduce a 50p tax rate on those earning over £150,000 a “double disaster”. In doing so, he will be lauded by the party’s grassroots but will put pressure on David Cameron and George Osborne to reiterate their position.

Writing for the Telegraph, Johnson says:

“And yet the 50p tax rate that is beginning to drive these people away is a disaster for this country, and it is a double disaster that no one seems willing to talk about it …

“The 50p tax is not far, in its political motive, from Stalin’s assault on the kulaks.”

His intervention will put pressure on the Conservative party leadership to reiterate their position. At their party conference, David Cameron said:

“The progressive thing to do, the responsible thing to do is to get a grip on the debt but in a way that brings the country together instead of driving it apart … [that] is why for now the 50p tax rate will have to stay.”

While George Osborne said:

“I am no fan of high tax rates. We know that in the long run they destroy enterprise. That is why we should not accept Labour’s new 50 per cent tax rate on the highest earners as a permanent feature of the tax system. But we could not even think of abolishing the 50p rate on the rich while at the same time I am asking many of our public sector workers to accept a pay freeze to protect their jobs.”

The policy has been unpopular with right-wing campaigners. Matthew Sinclair of the TaxPayers’ Alliance believes that the 50p rate will “mean fewer entrepreneurs and fewer jobs” – a position picked apart by the Other TaxPayers’ Alliance. A YouGov poll in April for the Fabian Society showed that 52 per cent of voters support the tax. Mr Johnson did not set out how the Government should make up the lost revenue.

UPDATE 11:03

Andrew Sparrow has a good analysis of what this means for Boris Johnson’s longer term plans to be Tory leader.

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