Sunak vows to axe stamp duty after Mordaunt criticises his actions on D-Day

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to axe stamp duty for first-time buyers on homes up to £425,000.

The commitment comes after Penny Mordaunt branded the Prime Minister’s decision to leave the D-Day 80th anniversary events early as “completely wrong”.

Ms Mordaunt, a Navy reservist, said it was right that Mr Sunak apologised not only to veterans but to the public, although she added the issue should not become “a political football”.

The Conservatives’ manifesto commitment to abolish stamp duty builds on a proposal from former prime minister Liz Truss’s Growth Commission.

Stamp duty land tax currently applies to sales over £250,000, with the proposed change impacting 200,000 households every year, The Telegraph reported.

During the seven-way BBC debate on Friday, the Commons Leader said: “What happened was completely wrong, and the Prime Minister has rightly apologised for that, apologised to veterans but also to all of us, because he was representing all of us.

“I’m from Portsmouth, I have also been defence secretary and my wish is at the end of this week is that all of our veterans feel completely treasured.”

A snap poll by More in Common suggests that viewers are more than twice (32%) as likely to think that Ms Mordaunt would make a better prime minister than Mr Sunak.

Asked if she would have left Normandy early as Mr Sunak did on Thursday, Ms Mordaunt said: “I didn’t go to D-Day, I think what happened was very wrong, I think the Prime Minister has apologised for that.

“But what I also think is important is we honour their legacy, they fought for our freedom, and unless we are spending the right amount on defence we can’t honour that legacy.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with President of France, Emmanuel Macron earlier on Thursday in Normandy
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met President of France Emmanuel Macron in Normandy (PA)

She later added: “I don’t want this issue to become a political football.”

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage replied: “Well, it already is. It already is because the veterans themselves are speaking out saying he’s let the country down.”

The Prime Minister apologised for his decision to leave France before a major international ceremony to mark the anniversary of the Allied landings but urged people not to politicise the event.

He admitted that “on reflection” he should have stayed for the event, where world leaders including US President Joe Biden marked the sacrifices made by troops landing on the Normandy beaches in 1944, rather than record a General Election campaign TV interview.

General Election campaign 2024
The politicians clashed on various issues during the debate (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Ms Mordaunt, who has represented Portsmouth North since 2010 and is standing for re-election, is one of the prominent figures who are projected to lose their seats at the next election.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: “A prime minister who puts his own political career before public service is no prime minister at all.

“A prime minister who puts his own political career before Normandy war veterans is no prime minister at all.

“So it’s incumbent upon all of us to do our national service and vote the Tories out of office.”

Elsewhere, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner clashed with Ms Mordaunt after she repeated a claim made by the Prime Minister that Labour would raise taxes by £2,000.

The figure has been criticised, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accusing Rishi Sunak of lying about how the sum was calculated.

Ms Mordaunt told the audience: “Angela Rayner’s party – Keir Starmer confirmed this earlier this week – they are going to put up your taxes by £2,000 per working household.”

Ms Rayner replied “that is a lie”, adding that the Government has raised taxes to a “record level”.

The pair then began to shout over each other before BBC presenter Mishal Hussain cut them off.

“That was terribly dignified wasn’t it,” Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer then said.

Nigel Farage gestures towards leader of Plaid Cymru Rhun ap Iorwerth and Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper
Nigel Farage gestures towards leader of Plaid Cymru Rhun ap Iorwerth and Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Earlier, the pair clashed over NHS waiting lists which led to Ms Rayner receiving applause after she claimed former prime minister Liz Truss “crashed” the economy.

On reducing healthcare waiting lists, Ms Mordaunt said: “There are many things we need to do but there are two really important things.

“We have to keep the budget strong. We need a strong economy.”

She continued: “Labour’s plans to tax your future pension, senior nurses and doctors, is going to get healthcare professionals to leave the service. That is going to lead to more waiting lists.”

Ms Rayner responded: “Penny, that’s rubbish and you’ve just said we need a strong economy – you backed Liz Truss and crashed our economy.”

The studio audience applauded as Ms Rayner added: “You made people like me redundant when we were in the homecare service.”