LONDON, April 22 British Prime Minister Theresa
May refused on Saturday to rule out an increase in personal
taxes if she wins a June 8 election after her finance minister
said fiscal pledges had limited his ability to manage the
May and her chancellor, Philip Hammond, were forced earlier
this year to scrap a planned rise in an employment levy only
days after it was announced following criticism that the measure
breached 2015 party election promises.
May's surprise decision to call an election on June 8 has
raised speculation that her Conservative 2017 manifesto will
abandon commitments not to raise the rate of value-added tax,
income tax or the national insurance payroll tax in order to
help reduce the budget deficit.
Appearing at a campaign event in central England, May
refused to say whether she could rule out higher taxes when
asked three times by reporters.
"At this election people are going to have a very clear
choice, between a Conservative Party which always has been, is
and will continue to be a party that believes in lower taxes.
"Or the choice is a Labour Party whose natural instinct is
to always raise taxes. That is the choice, lower taxes under the
Conservatives or higher taxes under Labour."
Hammond raised the issue of higher taxes on Friday when he
told reporters on a trip to Washington that he wanted Britain to
be a "sensibly taxed" economy that did not run a budget deficit.
"It's self-evidently clear that the commitments that were
made in the 2015 manifesto did, and do today, strain the ability
of the government to manage the economy flexibly," he said.
Polls give May's governing Conservative party a lead of
around 20 percentage points, enough to give her a much bigger
majority that she hopes will strengthen her hand when
negotiating Britain's exit from the European Union over the next
(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Helen Popper)