Rishi Sunak caves in to EU housebuilding rule frustrating housing boom
Rishi Sunak has caved in trying to scrap EU rules blocking house building after suffering a bloody nose at the by-election ballot box this week.
The Prime Minister, who has been engaged in a diplomatic frenzy in the Middle East, had been hoping to reassure his party at home with some vote-attracting action.
Labour overturned two large Tory majorities at by-elections in Tamworth and Mid-Bedfordshire on Thursday in a worrying sign for the PM ahead of the General Election.
And the Telegraph reports Mr Sunak’s hopes to scrap so-called “nutrient neutrality” rules that currently restrict where new houses can be built near rivers have also been dashed.
The Conservatives had wanted to frame themselves as the party of house builders to attract the first-time buyer vote, but they were defeated in the House of Lords thanks to Labour opposition to binning the EU rules.
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It now appears there won’t be enough time to push through any new legislation before the next election. One government source told the Telegraph despite the defeat, Labour now looked like ‘housing blockers’.
They said: “Sir Keir Starmer disgracefully blocked 100,000 homes with local consent being built just to play political games in the House of Lords.
“The hypocrisy from Labour over housebuilding stinks – when push came to shove, Starmer was a blocker, not a builder.”
Another plan of attack for the Government is underway with tax cuts being considered by raising the threshold for higher earners in the 40 percent bracket.
It’s reported the threshold for paying the higher rate of income tax could be raised in the 2024 spring budget, just before the country goes to the polls.
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And The Times reported that the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt are considering cuts to either stamp duty or inheritance tax.
Speaking to broadcasters as he prepared to fly back to the UK from meeting leaders in the Middle East, Mr Sunak admitted the by-elections produced “obviously disappointing results” but it was “important to remember the context”.
He said: “Mid-term elections are always difficult for incumbent governments. And of course there are also local factors at play here.”
The Prime Minister added that he remained “committed to delivering on the priorities of the British people” after the defeats.
Mr Sunak said he would “keep on” with his five priorities, which include halving inflation and stopping migrants in small boats crossing the Channel.
A Downing Street spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports and added: “I wouldn’t be able to speculate ahead of a fiscal event.”
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