David Cameron interviewed on Andrew Marr show: Politics live blog …
Here is a full summary of the key points from David Cameron’s interview.
Cameron played down the prospect of the Conservatives cutting the top rate of tax. He did not rule it out (as Labour has been stressing), but he said that if money were available for tax cuts, he would prioritise help for the low paid. This is what he said when asked if he wanted to cut the top rate from 45p in the pound to 40p.
I want taxes that mean the rich pay, not just a fair share as it were in taxes, but I actually want the rich to pay more in taxes. So you ought to set tax rates that encourage people to earn, to set up businesses, to make money, and then to pay taxes.
And what we’re finding with the 45p rate is that I think it’s going to bring in a better percentage of money than the 50p rate did. So you should always look at how you set taxes in that way. But my priority, if you like, and the priority of this government and the Conservative party, is to target tax reductions on the poorest people in our country.
That is why have have raised to 10,000 the amount you can earn before you start paying taxes …
We’ll set taxes to raise the revenue … but if I had some money in the coffers I would target that money at the lowest paid, at those who work hard, who want to get on. Those are the ones who need our help.
Cameron may have been deliberately trying to correct the impression given by his interview to the Sunday Times, which today, in its splash story describes Cameron as “hinting at future tax cuts for middle and top earners”.
This line is based on what Cameron said about cutting the top rate from 50p. (See 9.31am.) Rightwing papers tend to worship at the altar of the Laffer Curve and, when they hear a Tory talking about maximising the revenue from the top rate of tax, they often assume this means tax cuts. But, actually, the HM Revenue and Customs paper about the impact of the 50p top rate published in March 2012 concluded that the top rate that would maximise revenue would be 48%. (You can read the document itself here – pdf – look for references to TIE taxable income elasticity, jargon for the top tax rate that would yield the most revenue.) I don’t think Cameron is going to raise the top rate to 48%. But, equally, just because Cameron did not rule out cutting the top rate, I think Michael Dugher is wrong to assume that that is at the top of his agenda. (See 11.38am.)1234
He gave what may be seen as his strongest hint yet that the Conservatives will support the removal of benefits like the winter fuel allowance from wealthy pensioners at the next election. Asked whether he would keep these benefits, or scrap them, he said the party would set out its plans at the next election.
This is what the Tories have been saying for ages. But it was telling that he could not promise to keep these benefits today, even though he has just announced that the “triple lock”, guaranteeing annual pension rises of at least 2.5%, would carry on until 2020 under Conservative plans. 5Cameron said he made a promise about winter fuel payments in 2010 and that when “you make these very clear public promises, you should keep them”. As well as being a dig at Nick Clegg (who broke a promise about tuition fees), this could be seen as Cameron accepting that there is a case for cutting these benefits for wealthy pensioners (because he is no longer trying to defend them on principle.)
He rejected a suggestion that his “triple lock” promise 6was electorally motivated (because pensioners are more likely to vote than younger people.) When this suggestion was put to him, he instead said his announcement was based on values.
It s a choice based on values, based on my values, which is that I want people, when they reach retirement, to know they can have dignity and security in their old age.
People who ve worked hard, who have done the right thing, who have provided for their families, they should then know they re going to get a decent state pension and they don t have to worry about it lagging behind prices or earnings, and I think that is the right choice for the country …
Politics is about choices and the choice I make is, yes, we should be giving pensioners dignity and security in their old age.
He implied that he would veto a new EU treaty if he did not get the changes he wants in his EU renegotiation. At one point he talked about “the treaty change that I’ll be putting in place before the referendum that we’ll hold on Britain’s membership of the EU by the end of 2017″. And at another point he talked about using the veto.
Renegotiation is absolutely achievable because every time a new country joins the European Union, there has to be unanimity around the council table in Europe about what the arrangements are. So Britain will be able to insist for future countries joining, we ll be able to insist on a tougher, more robust regime.
In fact there are not likely to be any new countries joining the EU before the end of 2017.
But Number 10 says Angela Merkel said at the end of last year that there would have to be a treaty change to implement the planned changes to the eurozone. 7That is the treaty change Cameron wants to use to secure his goals, an aide said.
Cameron suggested that changing the rules on free movement of labour within the EU would be at the heart of his renegotiation.
There are good parts to movement within the EU there are many British people who take advantage of going to live and work elsewhere, and Britain has benefited and will continue to benefit from people with skills coming to Britain and contributing to our economy. But I think two things have gone wrong: one is movement to claim benefits, and we need to crack down on that, there is a problem there.
I think secondly what s gone wrong and I don t think the people who founded the EU ever believed this was going to happen is the scale of the movements have been so big. As I said, when Poland and the other A8 countries Hungary and others, Latvia, Lithuania when they joined the European Union and Britain didn t, under Labour, put any controls on at all, 1.5m people initially came from those countries to Britain.
That is a massive population move and I think we need proper and better controls. So I think it is an issue, it s an issue I want to address in the renegotiation that we take part in.
Other issues that would in addressed in the renegotiation included the need for more flexibility and for more competitiveness, and for costs to be cut for small businesses, he said.
He said that he would like to stop EU immigrants being able to claim child benefit in the UK for children abroad. But this would take time to change, he said, because it would require the agreement of other EU countries.
He said the government did not have any forecast for the number of Bulgarians or Romanians expected to come to the UK following the lifting of controls this month because any forecasts were likely to be wrong.
The last forecast that was made by the last Labour government, at the time of Poland’s accession to the EU, where they put in no transitional controls, was a ludicrous forecast of 14,000 and it turned out that over a million people came.
I don’t want to repeat that mistake. I believe in learning from that mistake, having transitional controls for as long as possible, looking when future countries join the European Union, having transitional controls that either go on much, much longer or actually having either a test so that if their wages are much lower perhaps you delay entry to our labour market for far, far longer until that changes.
He said that immigration to the UK had been “too high”. Asked if immigration was good or bad for the country, he replied: “Well, it’s been too high.
I’m in favour of managed migration.”
He claimed that improving education standards would cut immigration – because that would lead to more Britons taking the jobs currently taken by foreigners.
There s a three-sided coin here: immigration, welfare, and education. If we get our education system right, if we get our welfare system right, we ll be able to get more British young people into the jobs that are being made available and that will reduce the pull factor into the UK.
He confirmed that he had not met his 2010 pledge to get net migration below 100,000.
Net migration is down almost a third since I became prime minister. I said we wanted to get net migration down, I said we wanted to get it to the tens of thousands, we are not there yet, but it has come down by just less than a third.
He claimed that he was already succeeding in negotiating changes to the way the EU works.
First of all, even before starting this renegotiation we have actually won back powers from Brussels.
Since becoming prime minister, I ve got us out of the bailout for the eurozone countries so Britain s not at risk of having to bail out other countries; I ve vetoed a treaty so other countries in Europe have gone ahead with a fiscal treaty which Britain is not involved in; I ve managed to cut the EU budget the first government in history to cut the scale of the EU budget next yaer, it s actually going down rather than up which is good news for Britain; and I ve also started to set out those things that need to change.
He insisted that the government’s plans to make foreigners pay for using the NHS were achievable.
He confirmed that he was interested in cutting housing benefit – and possibly other benefits – for the young.
As I said in my party conference speech and elsewhere, I want young people as they leave school and university to be given a choice of either earning or learning. The idea of signing on and getting housing benefit and living a life on benefits the Dutch don t allow that, other countries don t allow that. We ve got to move to a system where you ve got a choice: you can earn or you can learn, but a life on benefits is not an option.
He claimed he was not really interested in daily political commentary about who’s up and who’s down.
What I want to do is do everything I can to turn this country around and give it a real chance of success in the 21st Century.
The public will judge at the election, and I think perhaps politicians, media, all of us, we spend too much time on the sort of daily strategy political battle and who s up and who s down. I m not really interested in that. I ve got this incredible opportunity to put in place a long-term plan that gives this a real chance of success.
He seemed to reject calls to debate Scottish independence with Alex Salmond.
On the issue of the debate, I know why Alex Salmond is pushing this argument – it’s because he’s losing the current argument and he wants to try and change the argument.
But this is not a debate between me and him. The debate should be between people in Scotland who want to stay and people in Scotland who want to go …
We debate these things in parliament and we debate them in the media. But the key question – does Scotland stay in the UK or does Scotland leave the UK? – that is for Scots to decide.
I don’t have a vote in this. It is for Scots to decide and that is where the debate should take place.
Elizabeth Lloyd, a special adviser to the Scottish government, said on Twitter the reference to debates “in the media” could be significant.
But that looks to me like wishful thinking.
Cameron said a Labour government would ruin the good work of the coalition.
The public need to know that the opposition are committed to undoing all that good work. It would be like handing back the keys to the people who crashed the car in the first place.
They ve learnt nothing about the absolute mess they made of the economy when they were in power.
He denied that cuts to flood spending had contributed to the recent problems.
We are spending 2.3bn in this four-year period on flood defences, which is more than the previous four-year period. And we ve also enabled councils to access other sources of money partnership funding. So I think we re going to see record levels of spending on flood defences and we ve guaranteed that right out to 2020 so they can really plan for the future.
Local authorities have had to make difficult decisions; the Environment Agency does have to make sure that it controls its budgets carefully, but we are making sure that they invest in the frontline; in fact we ve increased the amount of money they get for frontline help.
He said British ministers would not by boycotting the Sochi Olympics in Russia and that he had not ruled out attending himself.
My schedule isn t yet determined, but certainly nobody s boycotting the Sochi Olympics.
Ministers will be going and British athletes will be going and I wish them a successful games.
I ve raised issues about human rights and gay rights with President Putin, as I always do.
But we wish them a successful games.
Andrew Marr and David Cameron Photograph: /BBC
- ^ 9.31am.) (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ the top rate that would maximise revenue would be 48%. (www.thisismoney.co.uk)
- ^ here – pdf (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ 11.38am.) (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ he has just announced that the “triple lock”, guaranteeing annual pension rises of at least 2.5%, would carry on until 2020 under Conservative plans. (www.bbc.co.uk)
- ^ his “triple lock” promise (www.bbc.co.uk)
- ^ Angela Merkel said at the end of last year that there would have to be a treaty change to implement the planned changes to the eurozone. (www.theguardian.com)
- ^ PoliticsHome (www.theguardian.com)
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