Theresa May will promise to reform the energy market and slash up to £100 off the bills of 17 million homes in her manifesto, it emerged today.
Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green confirmed the dramatic reforms would be at the heart of Tory plans when the manifesto is published on May 8.
The Tories will move to regulate standard tariffs, which are used by most households even if they are not the cheapest option available.
Mrs May is already underfire for stealing a policy that was at the heart of Labour’s 2015 manifesto and which the Tories condemned at the time.
It has also failed to end questions about whether the Tories will raise taxes after the election or scrap the ‘triple lock’ protecting pension increases.
But on a day when Jeremy Corbyn is being slammed for appearing weak on national security, the Tory high command will believe the criticism can be avoided.
Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green confirmed the dramatic reforms would be at the heart of Tory plans when the manifesto is published on May 8
Mr Green, pictured on today’s Peston on Sunday, would not be drawn on the tax policy in the Conservative manifesto
Confirming the energy policy would go ahead, Mr Green told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: ‘I think people feel some of the big energy companies have taken advantage of them with the tariffs they’ve got.’
He said it differed to a previous policy to freeze bills from former Labour leader Ed Miliband at the 2015 general election.
He added: ‘The difference is that we would have Ofgem setting a limit so it would be a cap, more flexible, be able to reflect market conditions so the market would still have an influence.
‘That would mean, in practical terms, if the oil price fell again then consumers would benefit in a way they wouldn’t have done under Ed Miliband’s proposal.’
Michael Gove has suggested the Conservatives should give Mrs May ‘maximum freedom of manoeuvre’ by dropping the party pledge to not raise certain taxes.
The Conservative former cabinet heavyweight said the Prime Minister needs a ‘free hand’ when it comes to the economy following the party’s 2015 manifesto ‘tax lock’ pledge, which states they would not raise income tax, VAT or national insurance.
Theresa May will promise to reform the energy market and slash up to £100 off the bills of 17million homes in her manifesto it emerged today
Chancellor Philip Hammond was forced into a humiliating U-turn shortly after last month’s Budget when a revolt from backbench Tory MPs forced him to ditch planned national insurance changes for the self-employed.
Michael Gove has suggested the Conservatives should give Mrs May ‘maximum freedom of manoeuvre’
Asked if a commitment similar to the previous tax lock needs to be made in the Tory manifesto, Mr Gove told Peston: ‘If I were the Prime Minister or Chancellor or advising them, I would want to have the maximum freedom of manoeuvre on that.
‘II think in dealing with the deficit and in making sure we have economic confidence in this country, I think we need to have a free hand.’
Mr Green, challenged following Mr Gove’s remarks, told the same programme: ‘I’m not going to leak parts of the manifesto.
‘My own personal view is people should make up their own mind on what parties have done as much as parties promise in manifestos, and we have a record as a party over decades of cutting taxes and wanting to keep taxes low.’
Mrs May, pictured camapigning in Dudley yesterday, is already underfire for stealing a policy that was at the heart of Labour’s 2015 manifesto and which the Tories condemned at the time
Labour spinners have been forced to step in and insist the party does support Britain’s nuclear deterrent after Jeremy Corbyn suggested he would never use it and might scrap it.
Mr Corbyn said using nuclear weapons would be a ‘disaster’ and said the essential renewal of Britain’s Trident submarines would be included in his defence review.
The shock claims came in a car crash interview in which Mr Corbyn also said he would stop all air strikes on Syria, refused to back a drone strike on the terror group’s leader and hinted at pulling UK troops out of Nato’s defence against Russia.
The Tories said it was clear ‘Jeremy Corbyn would refuse to strike against terrorists and dismantle our nuclear defences’.
Hours after the disastrous interview aired, a Labour spokesman said: ‘The decision to renew Trident has been taken and Labour supports that.’
Mr Corbyn told the BBC’s Andrew Marr he wanted a peaceful world but rebuffed a barrage of questions about real security threats facing Britain today
Mr Corbyn, who is a life-long opponent of nuclear weapons, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr he would have an ‘immediate’ security and defence review if he takes power.
Asked if he would ever use nuclear weapons, Mr Corbyn said: ‘We want a secure and peaceful world. We achieve that by promoting peace, but also by promoting security.
‘Security comes from that process.’
Tony Blair has hinted he could try for a stunning return to Parliament to lead the fight against Brexit as he said Labour voters should consider backing pro-EU Tories.
The former Prime Minister, who quit Westminster 10 years ago after a decade in No 10, admitted he felt ‘motivated’ to return to the front line.
He insisted Brexit was ‘bigger than party allegiance’ and said while he would vote Labour on June 8, voters should look at the choice on their own patch and back the best anti Brexit candidates – even if they were Tories.
The remarks prompted a former senior aide to Jeremy Corbyn to call for Mr Blair to be expelled from Labour.
Tony Blair has hinted he could try for a stunning return to Parliament to lead the fight against Brexit as he said Labour voters should consider backing pro-EU Tories (file picture)
Mr Blair repeated his view it was likely Mrs May would secure the victory she wanted which meant the question of the campaign should be Brexit and not who would be Prime Minister.
The hints at a return to the front line suggest an extraordinary U-turn from the former Labour leader, who has insisted for months he had no intention of doing so and acknowledging the political baggage he brings.
Speculation has grown since the new year when Mr Blair closed down his profit making businesses and ploughed the proceeds into his own non-profit ‘institute’.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron yesterday said there were ‘no circumstances whatsoever’ in which he would enter into a coalition with either of the major parties.
Theresa May has accused Labour and the Lib Dems of planning a ‘coalition of chaos’ with the Scottish nationalists.
But Mr Farron rejected this, saying he could not work with Jeremy Corbyn.
He also dismissed talk of an informal arrangement, known as a supply and confidence deal, to offer his party’s support on budget measures and other key votes to help a minority Tory or Labour administration.
Tim Farron yesterday said there were ‘no circumstances whatsoever’ in which he would enter into a coalition with either of the major parties
Challenged about the prospect of a political pact, Mr Farron told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: ‘No supply and confidence, no coalition, no deal.’
He insisted his party would not prop up a minority government, and said Labour ‘has not been behaving like an alternative government but is not even behaving like an opposition’.
‘The Liberal Democrats are determined to make [the election] a contest with a clear alternative position, and I don’t want people thinking a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a proxy for anything else.’
Mr Farron, a devout Christian, yesterday repeated that being gay was not a sin, but he would not answer a question on whether gay sex was a sin.
UKIP may stand aside in some seats to help ‘good Brexiteers’ from other parties win power.
Leader Paul Nuttall said he would seek to help Tory and Labour MPs with a track record in campaigning for Leave.
But he said any decision to enter into local pacts would have to be made by individual constituency organisations.
Paul Nuttall said he would seek to help Tory and Labour MPs with a track record in campaigning for Leave
‘What I don’t want to see happening is good Brexiteers, people who have campaigned for years for Brexit, I don’t want to see them lose their seats and a Remainer be there in their place,’ he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
Asked if he will seek election in June, he said: ‘I will make a decision in the coming week as to where to stand.’
Mr Nuttall also unveiled plans to ban burkas and sharia law. He denied the policies were an ‘attack’ on Muslims, saying the moves would address security fears and improve social integration.
Conservative Party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin (pictured) publicly slapped down Chancellor Philip Hammond for claiming that the tax lock was hindering the running of Britain’s economy
The Cabinet was at odds last night over whether to scrap David Cameron’s manifesto promise not to increase income tax, National Insurance or VAT.
Conservative Party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin publicly slapped down Chancellor Philip Hammond for claiming that the tax lock was hindering the running of Britain’s economy.
During a trip to Washington DC on Friday, Mr Hammond suggested that the tax freeze would be ditched.
‘It was self-evidently clear that the commitments that were made in the 2015 manifesto did and do today constrain the ability to manage the economy flexibly,’ he said.
But asked yesterday whether or not he agreed, Sir Patrick said: ‘No.’
He told the Sunday Politics programme on BBC1 yesterday: ‘The simple fact is that what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to do the best things for the economy, and we will be setting out in our manifesto in a few weeks’ time what the policies will be for the next Parliament.’
Pressed to clarify his disagreement with the Chancellor’s position, he said: ‘Well, Philip has expressed his view as to what he would like.
‘What I am saying is in a few weeks’ time we will set the manifesto out which will set the policies out and which will be agreed by the Cabinet.’
Last month, Mr Hammond was forced to abandon his Budget proposal to increase National Insurance for self-employed workers after he was accused of breaking the tax pledge set out by Mr Cameron and his chancellor George Osborne in the 2015 Conservative manifesto.
Last month, Mr Hammond was forced to abandon his Budget proposal to increase National Insurance for self-employed workers
At the weekend, Theresa May sought to scotch claims that the Conservatives were planning a post-election tax increase, insisting the Tories remained the party of ‘lower taxes’. But she refused to repeat the 2015 manifesto pledge.
At an election campaign event in Dudley in the West Midlands on Saturday, the Prime Minister said voters faced a choice when they voted on June 8 between ‘lower taxes under the Conservatives or higher taxes under Labour’.
She told supporters: ‘At this election, people are going to have a very clear choice.
‘They will have a choice between a Conservative Party which always has been, is and will continue to be a party that believes in lower taxes, in keeping taxes down for ordinary working people.
‘Or the choice is a Labour Party whose natural instinct is always to raise taxes.
‘That’s the choice – lower taxes under the Conservatives or higher taxes under Labour.’
The Tories have insisted they are not complacent about the election amid varying forecasts of how many seats they will win.
Theresa May and the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson urged their campaigners to fight for every vote after one survey suggested support was falling.
Most polls released over the weekend said the Conservatives’ share was on the up, but one by Survation had the two main parties closer, with the Tories on 40 per cent and Labour on 29 per cent. The pollster interviewed voters on Friday afternoon and Saturday, as the row over Tory tax and pension plans was emerging.
But the Prime Minister said: ‘The opinion polls got the General Election wrong in 2015. They got the EU referendum wrong …So we will not be complacent’
But a ComRes poll for the Sunday Mirror put the Tories at 50 per cent and Labour on 25 per cent, the first time it has put a party at 50 per cent since 2002. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times had the Tories on 48 per cent and Labour on 25 per cent.
But the Prime Minister said: ‘The opinion polls got the General Election wrong in 2015. They got the EU referendum wrong …So we will not be complacent. We will be fighting for every single vote.’
The Tories could gain 12 SNP seats, a Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times found.
÷ The European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt yesterday said Mrs May’s claim she will be stronger in the talks with an election win was ‘nonsensical’.