Labour ‘not out to pick off high earners’ in tax plans
20 April 2017
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry insisted Labour will not "pick off" groups of high earners in its tax plans as she appeared to distance herself from suggestions that people on more than £70,000 face paying more under the party.
The close ally of Jeremy Corbyn said she can understand why "many people" taking home the substantial wage packet may feel that they are "not rich".
It comes after shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the wealthy, who he defined as on over £70,000 a year, should ''pay their way more''.
Ms Thornberry denied the Labour leadership was taking the party back to the times of Michael Foot's disastrous 1983 general election campaign and insisted the focus in the run-up to June 8 would be on tackling tax dodgers.
Companies who fail to pay their way "should be frightened of a Labour government because we will be standing up to them," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Pressed on whether higher earners would be hit under a Labour government, she said: "We will need to go into the details as to what our changes to taxation will be. I'm not really in a position to be able to go into those details today.
"There are many people on £70,000 who may well feel that their circumstances are such that they are not rich and I understand that. But they are certainly on a higher income - it's just a matter of maths - than those on £26,000."
She added: “The system at the moment is one whereby there is an elite who believe the rules don’t apply to them, that taxes don’t apply to them, that they don’t need to be part of the system.”
Labour is “prepared to make radical change” and will stand up to the elites, she said.
“That is not picking off people of particular incomes,” she added.
“The details of our tax plans will come out in our manifesto.”
Asked if workers earning more than the average £26,000 salary should watch out, she told John Humphrys: “No, no John, no.”
Ms Thornberry refused to categorise how left wing Mr Corbyn is compared to previous Labour leaders.
“Philosophically he’s to the left of Tony Blair,” she said.
“There are some differences but I think Jeremy and Ed (Miliband) have a lot in common, actually.”
Pushed on whereabouts he ranks on the political spectrum, she replied: “It’s not terribly important, this is just empty nonsense.”