Election campaign day six: No police action over Rayner’s council house sale

Angela Rayner has been told she will not face any police action following the sale of her former council house almost a decade ago, while Rishi Sunak made a renewed pitch for the so-called “grey vote”.

Here are the key moments from day six of the campaign:

– Relief for Rayner

Greater Manchester Police said they have concluded their investigation into the Labour deputy leader’s sale of her Stockport property in 2015 and would not be taking any action.

Ms Rayner had faced questions over whether she owed capital gains tax on the house, which she originally bought under right-to-buy legislation, and whether she had been registered to vote at the correct address.

Greater Manchester Police opened an inquiry following a formal complaint by Conservative party deputy chairman James Daly, but the force said that after a “thorough” investigation they had concluded no further action was required.

In a statement it said there had been “a strong public interest” in mounting an inquiry, adding: “Matters involving council tax and personal tax do not fall into the jurisdiction of policing”.

Labour welcomed the finding, which it said “draws a line under the matter”.

“Angela has always been clear that she was not liable for capital gains tax on the sale of the home she owned before she was an MP, that she was properly registered to vote, and paid the appropriate council tax,” a party spokesman said.

– We’re the ‘natural party of business’ now says Labour’s Reeves

Rachel Reeves has claimed Labour is now the “natural party of British business” as she vowed never to “play fast and loose” with the country’s finances.

General Election campaign 2024
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves delivers a speech during a visit to Rolls-Royce in Derby (Stefan Roussaeu/PA)

As she delivered her first set piece speech of the General Election campaign, the shadow chancellor declined to echo party leader Sir Keir Starmer in describing herself as a “socialist”, saying instead she was a “social democrat”.

Standing in front of two jet engines at the Rolls-Royce plant in Derby, she said she was “not one of those politicians that thinks that the private sector is a dirty word, or a necessary evil”.

She said: “I know there is no policy that I can announce, no plan that can be drawn up in Whitehall, that will not be improved from engagement with business, and our manifesto will bear the imprint of that engagement.”

She said she wanted to lead “the most pro-growth, pro-business Treasury” in UK history, as Labour highlighted a letter signed by more than 120 business leaders endorsing the party.

However, it faced pushback from its biggest trade union backer, Unite, which demanded it drop former Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye from its list of supporters over his “fire and rehire” tactics during the Covid pandemic.

Ms Reeves said: “You can’t be pro-working people unless you’re pro the businesses that create the jobs and the prosperity to ensure that good jobs are available all across our country.”

– Sunak’s pensioner promise

Rishi Sunak made a renewed pitch for the so-called “grey vote” with the promise of a £2.4 billion tax break for the country’s eight million pensioners if he is returned to No 10 in the election on July 4.

With older voters traditionally the most likely to turn out on polling day, the Prime Minister said the Conservatives would increase their personal tax free allowance – handing them a tax cut of around £100 next year.

“This bold action demonstrates we are on the side of pensioners,” he said.

Under what the Tories described as the “triple lock-plus,” both the state pension and the personal allowance will be uprated annually by inflation, average wages or 2.5%, whichever is highest.

The change will be worth around £275 a year to pensioners by 2029-30, when the cost to Exchequer is estimated at £2.4 billion, to be paid for by a clampdown on tax dodgers.

But Institute for Fiscal Studies director Paul Johnson said about half the cost of the plan was from not imposing three more years of frozen personal allowances on pensioners.

“So the £100 ‘saving’ next year is mostly just avoiding a £100 tax increase, rather than an actual giveaway,” he said.

– Farage enters the fray

General Election campaign 2024
Nigel Farage in Dover on his first campaign outing for Reform UK (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Nigel Farage has called for the Royal Marines to be deployed to send migrant boats back across the Channel if the French refuse to “play ball” and take them back voluntarily.

Making his first foray onto the campaign trail, the Reform UK honorary president said Mr Sunak had only called the election because he knew his policy of deporting migrants to Rwanda was doomed to failure.

“He knows those planes in July, as he promised, would not be going to Rwanda. They weren’t going to go. Rishi can’t stop the boats,” he told a news conference as the party unveiled its candidate for Dover.

Earlier Mr Farage, who is not standing in the election, said the Government needed to make clear to Paris that the French navy could not simply escort migrant dinghies into the middle of the Channel and then hand them over to the UK authorities.

“If the French won’t play ball, then the Royal Marines will have to take people back to France. It’s just as simple as that,”
he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

– Picture of the day

General Election campaign 2024
Sir Ed Davey hits the water while paddleboarding on Lake Windermere (Peter Byrne/PA)

Sir Ed Davey received a soaking after he took to the water to highlight his party’s plans to tackle the sewage crisis.

The Liberal Democrat leader took repeated tumbles into Lake Windermere as he tried to master a paddleboard – much to the amusement of the party’s former leader, Tim Farron, who was looking on balanced on his own board.

Under the Lib Dems’ local environmental experts would be appointed to sit on the boards of the water companies to ensure sewage spillages are dealt with seriously.

Sir Ed said for too long the companies had been getting away with a “national sewage scandal”, adding: “These disgraced firms are destroying our treasured lakes and rivers with their filthy sewage dumping.”

– SNP calls for immediate recognition of the Palestinian state

SNP leader John Swinney has called on the Conservatives and Labour to “immediately” recognise the state of Palestine.

Scotland’s First Minister has said that if the two main parties fail to act, his party at Westminster will bring forward a binding Commons vote on the issue at the earliest possible opportunity following the election.

On the day, that Ireland joined Norway and Spain in formally recognising the Palestinian state, Mr Swinney said it would be “a huge step towards a just and durable political solution” in the Middle East.

The move intensifies the pressure on Sir Keir who has faced a backlash from some Labour activists for not calling sooner for a ceasefire in Gaza.

– Number of the day

– Polls latest

POLITICS Election Polls
(PA Graphics)

Two opinion polls were published over the bank holiday weekend, both of which put Labour comfortably ahead of the Conservatives.

A survey by Deltapoll of 1,517 British adults online, carried out from May 23-25, put Labour on 45%, the Conservatives on 23%, Reform on 10%, the Liberal Democrats on 9% and the Greens on 6%, with the SNP on 3%, Plaid Cymru on 1% and other parties on 2%.

The latest poll by Opinium, carried out on May 23 and 24 among 2,050 UK adults online, put Labour on 41%, the Conservatives 27%, Reform 10%, the Lib Dems 10% and the Greens 7%, with the SNP on 2%, Plaid Cymru on 1% and other parties on 1%.

A simple average of all polls carried out in the seven days to May 28 puts Labour on 45%, 21 percentage points ahead of the Tories on 24%, followed by Reform on 11%, the Lib Dems on 9% and the Greens on 5%.

This is broadly unchanged on the averages for the previous seven days to May 21, where Labour was on 45%, the Conservatives on 24%, Reform on 11%, the Lib Dems on 10% and the Greens on 6%.

The averages are based on polls published by Deltapoll, Ipsos, More in Common, Opinium, Redfield Wilton, Savanta, Survation, TechneUK, WeThink and YouGov.

– Quote of the day

“This election is a foregone conclusion. Labour are going to win and they’re going to win quite big. And therefore you could argue, actually, that a vote for the Conservative Party is a wasted vote” – Nigel Farage speaking as he set out Reform UK’s election campaign agenda in Dover.

– What’s happening tomorrow?

Sir Keir Starmer is to highlight Labour’s plans for the NHS on a campaign visit to the West Midlands.

Rishi Sunak will be on the campaign trail for the Tories in the South West.