Labour defends Sunak attack ads as it turns fire on PM’s wife

Non-dom tax status of Akshata Murty called into question in latest ad criticising Tories’ record

A senior Labour politician has said the Conservative record on crime and child sexual abuse prosecutions are “legitimate areas for public debate”, as the party released another attack ad focusing on Rishi Sunak’s wife’s former non-dom status.

The latest advert, featuring another picture of Sunak, reads: “Do you think it’s right to raise taxes for working people when your family benefited from a tax loophole? Rishi Sunak does.”

The advert on Twitter, in the same style as the controversial ads on crime last week, adds: “A Labour government would freeze council tax this year, paid for by a proper windfall tax on oil and gas giants. And we’d scrap the Tories’ non-dom tax loophole.”

Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, was revealed last year to hold the special tax status, reportedly saving her millions, but has since said she will pay UK taxes on all her worldwide income.

A Labour government would freeze council tax this year, paid for by a proper windfall tax on oil and gas giants.

And we’d scrap the Tories’ non-dom tax loophole.

— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) April 11, 2023

The shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Pat McFadden, declined to say if any subject was off-limits for political attacks but said all of the subjects so far were merely pointing out the Conservatives’ record in government.

“Last week we pointed out the record on crime, particularly in relation to sexual offences. This week, we’re focusing on the economy, the cost of living, mortgages, council tax, people’s ability to pay their bills, and so on. These are legitimate areas for public debate,” he told Sky News.

“And a really important point I come back to underlying it all is that we are not going to accept a political narrative that says every time the Tories change the leader, every year or two, the slate is wiped clean, and nothing that went before counted.

“British politics can do better than a new iteration of a Conservative government every couple of years.”

The Conservatives dismissed Labour’s latest advert, with one Tory source saying: “This is the height of hypocrisy from a party which has already made £90bn of unfunded spending commitments and whose leader stands to benefit from a bespoke, tax-unregistered pension scheme unavailable to others.

“Rishi Sunak has a plan to halve inflation, grow the economy and reduce debt. Sir Keir [Starmer, the Labour leader,] only has a plan – to play politics on Twitter.”

Starmer, has defended the tone of the adverts, which have drawn criticism from Labour MPs and discomfort in the shadow cabinet.

In a letter to his shadow cabinet, seen by the Guardian, Starmer wrote: “Rishi Sunak is the chief architect of choices prioritising the wealthiest and of the government’s failure to get a grip of the economy and get growth going.”

The party’s first digital attack advert of the campaign, published last week, used a picture of Sunak alongside text suggesting he “does not believe adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison” and pointed to the Tory record on offenders avoiding jail.

The shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, will kick off Labour’s cost of living campaign week on Tuesday, repeating its pledge to help more first-time buyers on to the property ladder when she visits a community bank in Brighton.

The party’s plans include giving first-time buyers first choice on new-build homes, a mortgage guarantee scheme, and an end to entire developments being sold off-plan to overseas investors.


Jessica Elgot and Aletha Adu

The GuardianTramp

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