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20 Labour MPs Defy Jeremy Corbyn To Vote Against Tory Tax Cuts For High Earners



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Several Labour MPs have rebelled against Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell over their controversial decision to abstain from the vote on income tax 

A group of 20 Labour MPs have defied Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell to vote against Tory tax cuts for high earners.

The party leadership ordered its MPs to abstain from the vote after McDonnell controversially revealed he would not oppose the government’s move to increase the higher-rate tax threshold to £50,000 on the grounds that he would not “take money out of people’s pockets”.

But several of Corbyn’s MPs rebelled against the Labour whip on Thursday evening to vote down the motion, which passed through the House 314 votes to 31.

Yvette Cooper, Jess Phillips, Lisa Nandy and David Lammy were amongst the rebels, and were joined by Margaret Hodge, Alison McGovern, Stella Creasy and Kate Green. 

Speaking during the budget debate earlier in the day, Cooper branded it “simply wrong” to cut tax for high earners. 

“It means millions of the lowest paid workers won’t benefit at all because they don’t pay enough tax, but millions of the highest paid workers will get the most benefit of all,” she said. 

“This budget should be about making all of us stronger and the whole country better off. It does the opposite.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond revealed during the Autumn Budget on Monday that changes to income tax promised in the Conservative Party’s manifesto would be implemented a year early, with the tax-free personal allowance raised to £12,500 from April 2019.  

Henry Nicholls / Reuters

Philip Hammond rose both the tax-free personal allowance and the higher-rate tax threshold in the Autumn Budget 

He also raised the higher-rate tax threshold by £3,650, sparking accusations that his economic plan was actually a budget for the rich, with higher earners set to benefit six times as much from the package of tax changes than those ons a lower income. 

Also speaking in the House on Thursday, McGovern accused the Tories of copying the tactics of the Republican Party in the US, saying they were hiding huge tax cuts for the wealthy by “dressing it up as money for the middle class”.

“They want big tax cuts for the wealthy, Mr Speaker, so they choose some so-called middle-class profession and put in their package of tax cuts for the wealthy a very small, nugatory amount for those who it seems might be in the middle,” she told the House. 

“They persuade the nation we should have tax cuts on that basis.”

But bringing the budget debates to a close, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss insisted the move was “not about giving tax cuts to millionaires”. 

“These are people on medium incomes who were dragged into the top-rate of tax under the Labour government.” 

Truss also used the opportunity to make a jibe at McDonnell’s expense over his decision not to oppose the tax cuts for higher earners, saying she could “almost hear Momentum sharpening their pitchforks”. 

“Shadow Chancellor, you have friends on this side of the House,” she told McDonnell. 

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