Labour being ‘very honest with public’ about its fiscal plans

Shadow Treasury minister Darren Jones has said his party is being “very honest with the public” after claiming there is a £71 billion black hole in the Conservative Party’s spending pledges.

The Labour Party summoned journalists to a central London venue for a press conference, where Mr Jones told them “the threat to family finances from this chaotic Conservative campaign is now so severe it must be exposed and must stop”.

Labour organisers handed members of the press a 10-chapter document titled “Conservatives’ interest rate rise”.

A Conservative Party spokesperson described the document as “shoddy”.

Facing questions about the party’s economic policy should it form a government after the General Election, Mr Jones said: “Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, was very clear yesterday, that all of our policies are fully funded and fully costed.

“The way we raise the money to pay for those policies – those first six steps that an incoming Labour government will implement – is through the closure to the loopholes that we have set out, so private school VAT, private equity bonus tax, closing the non-dom loopholes, the energy profits levy on windfall in the oil and gas industry, and investing to tackle tax avoidance in the system.

“None of our policies requires any further funding and that’s why there is a commitment to not raising taxes in the manifesto in this election.”

Mr Jones added he wanted the tax burden “to come down” in the next Parliament.

He denied there are plans for a “wealth tax”.

Mr Jones also denied his party had called the press conference to distract from headlines related to Diane Abbott, the veteran Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP who may be barred from contesting the seat again – something which party leader Sir Keir Starmer has denied.

In its analysis of the £70.87 billion black hole, the Labour Party has claimed an equivalent rise in borrowing could increase average monthly mortgage payments by £350, if interest rates rise as it forecasts.

Labour analysts claimed the Conservative Party pledge to scrap national insurance could cost £43.11 billion in 2025-26, rising to £46.47 billion in 2029-30.

But Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said scrapping National Insurance is an “aspiration” to be achieved over the course of the next parliament.

Mr Jones said: “Let’s take the example of abolishing national insurance contributions – the Conservative Chancellor Jeremy Hunt made very clear in the House of Commons, I was sat there listening to him when he said that this was their policy to abolish national insurance contributions.

“That’s £46 billion per year. Where is he going to get that money from?

“He’s not answered that question.”

In the spring Budget, delivered to the House of Commons, the Chancellor announced a 2p cut in National Insurance and outlined a “long-term ambition” to abolish it altogether.

The Conservative Party spokesperson hit back with claims that Labour’s pledges would result in £196.4 billion “of unfunded annual borrowing, whacking Brits with a 6.9% interest-rate rise”, although neither party has published its full manifesto.

They described the press conference as “pathetic, desperate stuff from the Labour Party as they scramble to distract” from the row over Ms Abbott.

They said: “Now the Labour leader is embroiled in a ‘he said, she said’ with the veteran Labour MP, sending their limp campaign into even more of a tailspin.

“Instead of sticking out shoddy documents with made-up figures, Keir Starmer needs to explain why he repeatedly lied about the status of the Diane Abbott investigation, and when he plans to apologise to the British people.”