Tuesday, May 17

PM Tries To Rally Tory Troops Amid Tax Furore



David Cameron will try and rally the Conservative troops later ahead of next month’s local elections, amid division in the party over Europe and the continued fallout from the Panama Papers row about his father’s business affairs.

The Prime Minister will aim to shift the focus onto his party’s record in office after a torrid few weeks, which has also included the resignation of Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith.

Mr Cameron has also been accused of “misleading the public” after admitting he made money from shares in an investment fund operated by his late father Ian.

Downing Street had initially said Mr Cameron’s financial affairs were a “private matter”, before backtracking.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called on the PM to make a statement in Parliament setting out his financial affairs.

Seeking to regain the initiative after days of negative headlines, Mr Cameron will defend his Government’s record and warn that Labour would waste money, raise taxes and impose new red tape if they gain control of town halls on 5 May.

In a speech at the Conservative spring forum in London, the PM will say: “One year into our second term, and no one can deny: We are doing big things.

“Our mission: One Nation. Our method: knocking down every barrier to opportunity in our country. Our plan: giving everyone the chance to own a home; taking on the vested interest and bringing excellence to every school; sweeping new powers for local people; a seven-day NHS; creating jobs; raising wages; taking on extremism, ending segregation.

“A Conservative Government could be proud of achieving any one of those things in one term. We are doing them all.”

Ahead of the event launching the English local election campaign, Mr Cameron described the vote as a choice between “the competence of a strong Conservative council who will keep local taxes down with quality local services versus the disarray of the rest”.

The message for the contests, which include the London mayoral election, was “don’t let Labour do to your council what they did to our country”, he said.

“Local councils now have more control over their finances, more freedoms to decide where development should and shouldn’t go, and more powers to boost jobs and support local firms. But such new powers bring with them new responsibilities.

“Across north and south, across town and country, Conservatives in local government will deliver more for less.

“Labour and the other parties will just waste your money, squander these freedoms, impose new red tape and hike your taxes.”

The Conservatives are predicted to make modest gains in the local elections.

But the polls and bookmakers suggest that Zac Goldsmith will fail in his bid to replace Boris Johnson as London Mayor, with Labour’s Sadiq Khan projected at this stage to take control of City Hall.