Connect with us


4 min read

Only a quarter of people believe the government will stick to their election-winning promise of not increasing income tax, National Insurance or VAT, an exclusive end-of-year poll for PoliticsHome carried out by Redfield & Wilton Strategies has found.

Just 28 percent said they had faith the Conservatives would be able to stick to the manifesto commitment, such is the economic fall-out of Covid-19.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned this autumn that the country must begin returning to sustainable public finances by the Spring of 2021 to deal with the £200 billion in Covid response spending, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies has suggested this is only possible through higher taxes.

Revising the capital gains tax allowance, aligning the tax treatment of the self-employed versus employees have both been mooted by economic as possible solutions to the significant cost to the country of the pandemic, however the public believe the hit could fall on them.

The poll carried out earlier this month found that 35 percent disagreed that the Tories would be able to keep their promise, with 26 percent neither agreeing nor disagreeing and 11 percent saying they did not know.

There is no suggestion the Treasury has earmarked any of those taxes for potential increases, though the polling results signals concern from the public.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Raising taxes in such dire economic circumstances would only hinder a recovery. The government must enact pro-growth policies to get Britain booming again.

“With the tax burden at a 50-year high there is little public appetite for tax hikes. Taxpayers can’t be expected to foot the bill for evermore state borrowing and spending.  

“Sensible moves, like abolishing the national insurance jobs tax, offer the most reliable route to boosting employment and investment in the long term.”

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director said the new Tier 4 rules will make life even harder for retailers who were relying on a busy Christmas period and who are continuing to seek tax relief.

Rather than any potential tax hikes, they suggested that in the New Year a new look is needed to support business.

“There’s no doubt a fresh look will be needed in January as to how the Government can support UK businesses through to the Spring. Avoiding cliff-edges in other schemes like tax deferrals, grants and business rates holidays, will be essential early in the new year,” he suggested.

Significant worry about the current state of the economy was also evident in the poll with 69 percent saying they are more concerned about the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 than they were about the 2007-08 financial crisis at the time.

Only eleven percent said they were more concerned about the crash than they are now. Twenty percent said they did not know.

The regions and nations expressing the most concern about Covid than the last economic crisis were Scotland, Wales and Eastern England.

The survey also revealed that 82 percent of the over 65s believe the economic downturn from coronavirus is worse than the financial crash, compared to four percent who think it is the other way round.

Perhaps understandably, a quarter of 18 to 24 year olds said they did not know whether they were more concerned about the economic downturn in the mid to late 2000s or the coronavirus pandemic as they were children at the time of the last crash.

The wide-ranging poll also asked people how they felt about the performance of the prime minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Keir Starmer had been in relation to Covid-19.

A majority of those asked disapproved of Johnson’s response to coronavirus (42 percent) compared to 37 percent approving. 19 percent said they neither approved nor disapproved. The poll was undertaken before the fall-out over Christmas plans and the introduction of Tier 4.

His lowest approval rating came from those polled in Scotland, with only 18 percent of people approving his work on the Covid response. Of that figure just two percent said they strongly approved. This compared to 64 percent who disapproved.

The South East of England gave him the highest approval at 46 percent.

Fifty-eight percent of Tory voters backed his Covid-19 response, compared to 23 percent of Labour voters, and 24 percent of SNP voters. The age group that disapproved the most over Johnson’s performance was those aged 55 to 64, which may be of note for the government as older voters are often seen as a mainstay of the Tory vote.

Overall more people approved of Starmer than disapproved, however there was only a five percent difference in the responses from the public and the leading answer on his performance was one of ambivalence.

Results showed that 33 percent neither approved nor disapproved of Labour Leader Keir Starmer’s response to the coronavirus crisis, compared to 30 percent who approved and 27 percent who disapproved.

The poll was conducted on December 2.

 

Source link

0
Continue Reading

Politics

Pelosi to move forward with impeachment if Pence doesn’t act to remove Trump

210108 pelosi ap 773

“In protecting our Constitution and our Democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both,” Pelosi said in the letter to Democrats on Sunday night laying out next steps.

The House will try to pass a measure on Monday imploring Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, through which he and the Cabinet declare Trump “incapable of executing the duties of his office, after which the Vice President would immediately exercise powers as acting president.” If Republicans object, as is virtually certain, Democrats will pass the bill via a roll call vote on Tuesday.

“We are calling on the Vice President to respond within 24 hours,” Pelosi wrote. “Next, we will proceed with bringing impeachment legislation to the Floor.”

But it’s not clear when exactly the Senate will take up the House’s measure. The Senate isn’t scheduled to return until Jan. 19, but will hold pro forma sessions on Tuesday and Friday. In theory, a senator could try to pass the House resolution by unanimous consent, but as of now it appears unlikely that it would pass.

On Monday, multiple House Democrats plan to introduce impeachment resolutions that would become the basis of any impeachment article considered by the House later this week.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who will introduce an article of impeachment against Trump on Monday, said on Sunday that roughly 200 Democrats have co-sponsored the measure.

Currently, 211 voting members (plus three nonvoting members) support Cicilline’s legislation, and they are hoping to reach 217 voting members by Monday morning, enough for the House to impeach Trump, one Democratic source familiar with the matter told POLITICO.

A small number of Democrats have opted not to co-sign the bill, but privately say they will vote to support the resolution on the floor, the source added.

The impeachment effort in the House is likely to be bipartisan, with Democrats expecting at least one GOP lawmaker — Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — to sign on. A handful of other House Republicans are seriously weighing it, according to several sources, though those lawmakers are waiting to see how Democrats proceed, and some are concerned about dividing the country even further.

Among the GOP members whom Democrats are keeping an eye on are Reps. John Katko of New York, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington.

Across the Capitol, at least two Republicans — Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have called on Trump to resign. On Saturday, Toomey told Fox News, “I do think the president committed impeachable offenses,” but told CNN the next day that he does not believe there is enough time to impeach.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has also said he would consider articles of impeachment.

Another option has emerged among some Republican and moderate Democratic circles — censuring Trump — though it remains highly unlikely to advance.

A censure resolution would gain far more support in the GOP than impeachment. Some Republicans have privately been pushing for that route and are trying to get Biden on board, according to GOP sources. That group of Republicans is also warning that impeachment could destroy Biden’s reputation with Republicans.

But censure is considered a nonstarter in an incensed House Democratic Caucus, where members see it as a slap on the wrist that gives Republicans an easy out.

The Democrats’ enormous step toward impeachment on Sunday comes after Pelosi and other top Democrats held a private call on Saturday night in which they discussed the potential ramifications that a lengthy impeachment trial could have on Biden’s presidency.

Democratic leaders discussed several options to limit the political effects on Biden’s first 100 days, with one option — floated by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) — for the House to delay the start of an impeachment trial in the Senate by holding on to the article of impeachment.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has sent out a memo to senators explaining that the Senate could not take up impeachment until Jan. 19 at the earliest, absent unanimous consent.

A final decision has not been made, and House Democrats will discuss the matter on a 2 p.m. caucus call on Monday.

Lawmakers are already privately expressing concerns about returning to the Capitol for multiple days this week, worried about both a potential coronavirus outbreak and whether the building is secure, given how easily an armed pro-Trump mob invaded on Wednesday.

The Capitol physician urged House lawmakers and staff to get tested in a memo Sunday, saying they might have been exposed to someone who had the virus while huddling for safety in a large committee room for hours on Wednesday. During the hourslong lockdown, several Republican members refused to wear masks despite being offered them by Democrats worried about the spread of the deadly virus.

Melanie Zanona, Olivia Beavers and Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.

Source link

0
Continue Reading

Politics

Matt Hancock Scraps “Unnecessary Training Modules” Blamed For Slowing Vaccine Rollout

PA 57409526 mk3qwz

Matt Hancock has agreed to remove some of the training modules required for volunteers to sign up to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine (PA)


5 min read

Matt Hancock said people will no longer need to undertake training including an anti-terrorism course to give the coronavirus jab after MPs said “bureaucratic rubbish” was delaying mass vaccination.

It comes as MPs called for the government to produce targets for the number of people given immunity before lockdown can be lifted.

The health secretary said a series of “unnecessary training modules” are being scrapped to speed up the process of getting people qualified to deliver the jab.

Speaking in the Commons, Sir Edward Leigh said he was shown by his fellow the Tory MP, a qualified GP, the “ridiculous form” he had filled out to start delivering the vaccine.

“When he’s inoculating an old lady, he’s not going to ask her if she’s come into contact with Jihadis or whatever, so the Secretary has got to cut through all this bureaucratic rubbish,” he said.

In response Mr Hancock said: “I am a man after Sir Edward’s heart and I can tell the House that we have removed a series of the unnecessary training modules that had been put in place, including fire safety, terrorism and others.

“I’ll write to him with the full panoply of the training that is not required and we have been able to remove, and we made this change as of this morning and I am glad to say it is enforced.

“I am a fan of busting bureaucracy and in this case I agree with him that it is not necessary to undertake anti-terrorism training in order to inject vaccines.”

Dr Fox had earlier challenged Boris Johnson to drop the “bureaucracy” and “political correctness” of the forms vaccine volunteers must fill out.

He told MPs: “As a qualified but non-practising doctor, I volunteered to help with the scheme and would urge others to do the same. 

“But, can I ask the Prime Minister why I’ve been required to complete courses on conflict resolution, equality, diversity and human rights, moving and handling loads and preventing radicalisation in order to give a simple Covid jab?”

Mr Johnson said he had been “assured by the Health Secretary that all such obstacles, all such pointless pettifoggery has been removed”.

The government has been attempting to recruit thousands of volunteers to help with a mass vaccination programme, and with the recent approval of the more easily deliverable Oxford/AstraZeneca version has today revealed the location of seven mass vaccination centres set to open next week.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told journalists at a briefing they would be at Robertson House in Stevenage, the ExCel Centre in London, the Centre for Life in Newcastle, the Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester, Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey, Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol and Millennium Point in Birmingham, and it is expected they will be run with a combination of NHS staff and volunteers.

But so far the government has not said how many people need to be inoculated before it has an impact on the coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Hancock was asked by a number of MPs if the measures could be eased once the top few tiers in the vaccine priority list had been clear.

Former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper said once the top four groups, which includes care home residents and staff, frontline NHS workers, the clinically extremely vulnerable and everyone over 70 “we’ve taken care therefore of 80% of the risk of death”.

Adding: “What possible reason is there at that point for not rapidly relaxing the restrictions that are in place on the rest of our country?”

The health secretary replied: “We have to see the impact of that vaccination on the reduction in the number of deaths, which I very much hope that we will see at that point, and so that is why we will take this – an evidence-led move down through the tiers, when we’ve broken the link, I hope, between cases and hospitalisations and deaths.”

The ex-Tory minister and another doctor, Andrew Murrison, said: “The logic of anticipating what is going to happen in two or three or four weeks’ time from the number of cases we are getting at the moment is that we can do the same in reverse.

“That is to say, when we have a sufficient number of people vaccinated up we can anticipate in two or three or four weeks’ time how many deaths have been avoided. 

“That means, since it cuts both ways he will be able to make a decision on when we should end these restrictions.”

Mr Hancock replied: “The logic of the case that Dr Murrison makes is the right logic and we want to see that happen in empirical evidence on the ground.

“This hope for the weeks ahead doesn’t take away, though, from the serious and immediate threat posed now.”

The Cabinet minister said the challenge for the government is to increase the amount of doses available, claiming “the current rate-limiting factor on the vaccine rollout is the supply of approved, tested, safe vaccine”.

He added: ”We are working with both AstraZeneca and Pfizer to increase that supply as fast as possible and they’re doing a brilliant job.”

But Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for the government to ramp up its vaccination programme to six million doses a week.

He told the Commons: “The Prime Minister has promised almost 14 million will be offered the vaccine by mid-Feb. That depends on around two million doses a week on average.

“Both [Mr Hancock] and the Prime Minister have reassured us in recent days that it’s doable based on orders.

“But in the past ministers have told us that they had agreements for 30 million AstraZeneca doses by September 2020 and 10 million of Pfizer doses by the end of 2020.

“So, I think people just want to understand the figures and want clarity. Can ministers tell us how many of the ordered doses have been manufactured?”

Mr Ashworth added: “Two million a week would be fantastic but it should be the limit of our ambitions, we should be aiming to scale up to three, then five, then six million jabs a week over the coming months.”

Source link

0
Continue Reading

Politics

How South African police are tackling pangolin smugglers

p093hmc8

Quiet, solitary and nocturnal, the pangolin has few natural enemies, but researchers believe it is the most trafficked mammal in the world. The tough scales covering its body are sought after for use in Chinese medicine, in the erroneous belief that they have healing properties.

The animal has also been of interest to researchers during the coronavirus pandemic. Related viruses have been found in trafficked pangolins, though there is continued uncertainty around early theories that pangolins were involved in the transmission of the virus from animals to humans.

After South African police seized a pangolin from suspected smugglers, BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding witnessed how vets tried to save the animal’s life.

Source link

0
Continue Reading

Trending