Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt Drops Most of U.K. Tax-Cut Plan
Britain’s finance minister Jeremy Hunt announced Thursday that most of his budget-cutting plan has been delayed for at least one more month, raising the prospect of more months of political uncertainty as he tries to push a deal through parliament.
The announcement came as the government and opposition leaders haggled over the fate of the government’s key campaign pledges, a move that could allow British Prime Minister Theresa May to take power from the embattled British parliament later this month.
Hunt said he will delay an important move to cut tax for those making a low-wage earner’s combined income of more than $160,000 until the end of October, potentially delaying the fall of the pound and making it more difficult for Mrs. May to convince lawmakers to back her divorce deal with the European Union.
“We’ll be leaving it to the last day (of the month) so that Parliament has time to take its time over this,” Hunt said as he tried to sell the delay. “We will not move this at the expense of the many workers who will benefit from the change.”
Mrs. May’s deal was delayed three times in the four weeks since Britain voted to leave the 28-member European Union last month, and was then delayed again when she sought to postpone a vote on it in the House of Commons to allow her to negotiate with other EU leaders.
The pound rose against the dollar after those delays, adding to the pressure on May to extend the deal.
Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell both said they would back the plan if the government extended the deadline, an idea May rejected.
Asked about the plan’s possible suspension, Corbyn said he would “be happy to support the delay if there is an extension.”
“I think we can’t go too far too fast, because what the people of the country need is a deal and stability not just the extension of the last deal,” she said.
Labour’s shadow ministers said they would support the delay if it extends the deadline to January 2021, the end of the current parliamentary term.
May agreed to the delay as