Boris forges a pivotal tax path away from Brexiteers’ Singapore dream
Johnson’s radical move is a defining moment for the Conservative Party and a blow to free-market cheerleaders
There are moments in a government’s lifetime that symbolise a change of ideological direction. Last week UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s decision to raise taxes to pay for social care and bail out the National Health Service (NHS) was one of them.
However worthy the objectives, the result will leave the country with the highest tax burden since 1945. Crucially for “Brand Boris”, it means Britain has finally buried the post-Brexit idea of becoming Singapore-on-Thames — a freewheeling, low-tax, light-regulation economy that sits offshore a high-tax continent. Critics on the Right are even charging that Johnson has turned the conservatives into “Blue Labour”, a tax-raising party that’s focused on public services and tinged with nationalism.
But the political logic behind the 1.25% levy on national insurance, a breach of conservative manifesto commitments, was sound in principle. The extraordinary times of the pandemic called for extraordinary measures...