Instant Opinion

‘Typical households will be tax millionaires by the time they retire’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

John O’Connell for The Daily Telegraph

Ordinary households are working nearly two decades to pay off the taxman – it’s time for a rethink

on the cost of living crisis

So the National Insurance hike is going ahead, “increasing the average worker’s contribution by more than £430 every year”, according to TaxPayers’ Alliance estimates, says John O’Connell, the chief executive of the campaign group for lower taxes. And the income hit misery “doesn’t stop with the National Insurance increase”, he writes in The Daily Telegraph. “Income tax thresholds will be frozen over the coming years, dragging many more ordinary workers into higher rates of tax.” On top of that, “almost every local authority in the country is putting up council tax”, while energy bills are “soaring”, train fares are “up” and the weekly shop is getting “more expensive” too. New research from our alliance “shows that the lifetime tax bill for households earning £60,000 now stands at £1.1m”, O’Connell continues. Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak “say they are low-taxers at heart, but it’s increasingly difficult to believe when ordinary families are tax millionaires”.

2

Nikki da Costa for The Times

No. 10 failed us when we needed our leaders most

on top-down mistakes

“I was surprised to hear a Conservative MP dismiss the parties in No. 10 on the grounds that ‘everyone was breaking the rules’,” writes Boris Johnson’s former director of legislative affairs Nikki da Costa in The Times. As other insiders made similar comments, she “realised that this might be a defensive line being promoted” from within Downing Street and that some the prime minister’s advisers might regard “partygate” as “something to be brushed under the carpet, rather than confronted head-on”. Da Costa has felt increasingly “frustrated reading the official responses as they became more detached from public anger”. Ultimately, No. 10 “failed” to remind Downing Street teams to “dig deep and do what we were asking of the public and soberly go about our business”, she continues. “When the Sue Gray report is published, I hope for a much more human response than I have seen in the past week.”

3

Boris Johnson for the Daily Mail

Brexit helped us bounce back from Covid - now we’ll go faster with our freedoms and make it easier to get rid of retained EU law

on a big Brexit anniversary

“Two years after we left the EU we have all kinds of reasons to celebrate our new freedoms,” writes Boris Johnson in the Daily Mail. The UK has “taken back control of our money, our borders and our laws”. We are “delivering free ports”. We can also “pass our own laws against cruelty to animals and we have brought back blue passports and crown stamps on pint glasses”, the prime minister continues. And crucially, the “UK is coming out of Covid faster than virtually any other European country”. After “all that wrangling”, the “key lesson is that in the end it is impossible to hold back the UK, and impossible to stop this country taking advantage of our new freedoms – and we will go even faster”. A new “Brexit Freedoms Bill” will make it easier to get rid of retained EU law, “the weird system by which EU legislation occupies a semi-sacred place on the UK statute book”. At the same time, “we will continue to campaign for free trade and open markets”. And amid global tensions, says Johnson, it’s “worth remembering” too that “the UK is the second-biggest contributor to Nato” and that “today we stand shoulder to shoulder with our European friends and allies”. Brexit is helping to deliver what these allies really need – “a strong, prosperous and successful UK”.

4

Ruchir Sharma in the FT

Covid losers outnumber the winners among leaders and nations

on pandemic leaders ‘losing their shine’

The Omicron variant is “helping to undermine many leaders who once appeared to be beating back the pandemic”, writes global strategist and author Ruchir Sharma. “Among 15 major democracies that conduct regular polls, leaders are unpopular or losing popularity in ten of them, from France to Taiwan.” Voters were quick to “rally behind their leaders at the start of this war” against Covid-19, with “approval ratings surging in the spring of 2020”, Sharma says in the Financial Times. But now people are “tiring of the mobilisation effort” and “sceptical that anyone has a winning strategy against this shape-shifting foe”. Many seeming “success stories”, such as those in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, have “lost their shine after getting hit hard in later waves of the pandemic”. Others, like the US, have gone “from failure to success and back”, he continues. “Authoritarian or democratic, most governments held out the promise that, if people rallied behind their leaders, victory would come sooner rather than later.” But “instead, the virus demonstrated the limits of the state in controlling or even understanding this powerful force of nature”.

5

Harriet Williamson for The Independent

Going alcohol-free was the best gift I could give myself and those around me

on binning the booze

“We Brits love a drink,” says Harriet Williamson in The Independent. We drink for all sorts of reasons, from commiserating to alleviating boredom. For 15 years, Williamson writes, “I drank like I needed to single-handedly save the alcohol industry from collapse”. Although “I always knew that my relationship with alcohol was problematic”, she explains, “because so many of my peers and the people I looked up to did the same stuff, I saw my behaviour as ‘acceptably unhealthy’”. But after gradually realising that her drinking had “gone too far”, she stopped. Since giving up the booze, Williamson has been feeling “refreshed and revitalised”, and “more present with my friends and family and able to offer them more”. The “hardest part” has been the “defensive or dismissive reactions of other people”. Generally, though, “most have offered support”. “I’m not here to tell anyone they have to bin their booze,” concludes Williamson, “just to share the possibilities that an alcohol-free life has opened up for me.”

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