Speaking exclusively to Accountancy Age on Monday, the day before he was due to deliver his own Commons speech on the Budget, Howard said he would vote against the tax rises now but would not comment on future Tory policy.
‘The time for talking about exactly what tax changes we would make is just before the election when you know exactly what the situation is,’ he said. ‘I can’t tell you what we will do in three years’ time but I can tell you what we are going to do next week which is likely to be the earliest time that we have an opportunity of voting against the national insurance contributions.’
There has been a furious reaction among business to the Budget. Digby Jones, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said there would be ‘deep dismay’ at the measures.
Howard was adamant increased taxation and the burden of regulation for business was now affecting British competitiveness.
‘I think we’ve gone from being the lowest taxed economy in Europe, and lightest regulated, to becoming one of the highest taxed and the most regulated,’ he said.
‘Last year there were 4,692 new regulations, that’s a 50% increase on 1997, and however justified each of these single regulations might be the cumulative consequence is really very damaging.’
A full interview with Michael Howard will appear on the website next week.
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