Davey on tax cuts, the non-existent pact with Labour and nuclear disarmament

Ed Davey appeared on BBC One Sunday Morning yesterday. Interviewed by Sophie Raworth, he spoke about the cost of living, the need for tax cuts, keeping our nuclear deterrent until multilateral disarmament can be agreed and the forthcoming local elections and by-elections. He firmly denied the Lib Dems have a deal with Labour to squeeze the Tories out of some seats.

Full transcript

Sophie Raworth:

Listening to all of that was the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey. Good morning. How long do you think these inflation pressures are going to last? Years? A decade? More?

Ed Davey:

Well, at least a year or two, for sure. When I’d gone around the country, talking to voters in the local elections, millions of pensioners and families are really worried about the cost of living. They’re pretty annoyed that the current government seems to be making it worse with tax rises, Boris Johnson doesn’t seem to care. Doesn’t seem to have a plan. And what Liberal Democrats are saying is we need a bold tax cut, a cut in VAT worth £600 a year that would actually help smaller businesses struggling the high street and I think be good for our economy, but it…

Sophie Raworth:

Also helps everybody and not necessarily those most in need.

Ed Davey:

Well, I think we do need a tax cut for everybody. We also think there should be targeted measures for those in need. So we’ve talked about increasing the warm home discount, which takes money off the energy bills of the poorest people directly. We’ve also talked about double the winter fuel allowance for pensioners. So you’re right. We do need some targeted message measures, but I do think we need a tax cut for everyone. The great thing about Liberal Democrats proposals for a VAT cut, is it would also reduce the level of inflation. So it has a good economic benefit. And we are calling for the government to do it in the Queen’s speech. They can do that in two weeks’ time. We’re really annoyed that the Conservatives have no plan for this.

Sophie Raworth:

Why should a millionaire get the same tax cut as somebody on benefits?

Ed Davey:

Well, we are saying that people on benefits should get more. We are saying very clearly that the warm home discount, which as, as I repeat, takes money directly off their energy bills, that should be more than doubled. And we’re actually saying there’s about two and a half million people who get that. We, we think it should be extended to seven and a half million. So we absolutely are wanting to make sure there’s more help to the poorest people because you’re right on that point.

Sophie Raworth:

But why not just focus it all on the poorest people because you’re obviously giving with a VAT cut, you’re giving it to everybody.

Ed Davey:

Well, because the VAT cut tax cut does actually proportionally help the poorest more,  because they have lower incomes. But more importantly than that, it also helps our economy. It helps growth and it reduces inflation. So, I think it’s a really positive economic proposal that Liberal Democrats are making to help people who are struggling and I’m alarmed. The government are doing the reverse concerts are raising taxes. We we’ve got some new figures, which show that over the next decade, even taking account of Rishi Sunak’s one pence tax cut in a year or two’s time, overall the average family is going to see their tax bill go up in the next decade by over £5,000. The Tories are now the high tax party.

Sophie Raworth:

Can I ask you about the culture of Westminster? A lot of coverage about today in the papers for an obvious reason. Have you seen women in Westminster, in the house of commons being mistreated?

Ed Davey:

Well, I’ve certainly heard about it and I think it’s absolutely shocking. There’s been unacceptable behaviour. We saw the…

Sophie Raworth:

What have you heard? Just what kind of stories?

Ed Davey:

Well, a lot of what’s in the papers to be, to be, to be frank.

Sophie Raworth:

But you are working in there day in day out. So, I mean, have you come across it?

Ed Davey:

Well, most of what I’ve seen has been over in past years, I mean, currently I’m proud to lead a parliamentary party that’s two thirds women. And that has really made a positive change and I’d like to see far more women coming into politics. And one of the reasons why we got a stamp on this misogyny and sexism and the treatment of people like Angela Rainer, which was utterly appalling, is because it sends the wrong signal. We need to show to women and girls, if you come into politics it’s going to be an environment where you feel you will feel respected and we have to do far more. And what annoys me, you know, we had the Me Too scandal just a few years ago. It looks like we’ve made no progress. We have got to go further and faster on that. And if we don’t attract women and girls into politics, it will undermine our country. Our wonderful country needs the contribution of women and girls in politics.

Sophie Raworth:

Let me ask you about nuclear weapons. Given the situation in Russia, your position as the Liberal Democrats is to get rid of nuclear weapons around the world.

Ed Davey:

No, it’s not.

Sophie Raworth:

What is it then?

Ed Davey:

Well we believe in the deterrent. That Britain should have its own nuclear deterrent. We think that’s really, really important. You’re right to say that over the next few years, we would like to see multilateral disarmament. We want Russia to give up its nuclear weapons, China to give up its nuclear weapons and so on. And that needs a, a positive response…

Ed Davey:

And over the next few years. I mean, given the situation in Russia, you really see yourself sitting down with President Putin and convincing him to give up his nuclear weapons?

Ed Davey:

Well, regrettably, not at the moment, you are right on that. But I hope Putin goes.  I think this appalling attack on Ukraine, I hope that Russians are defeated and I hope then Putin goes, and maybe we can change the world, but at the moment, you’re utterly right. So very, very dangerous. I’ve been critical…

Sophie Raworth:

So your position doesn’t hold it, doesn’t it given the current situation, the world has changed, hasn’t it? And…

Ed Davey:

Well, we’re not talking about giving up our nuclear weapons,

Sophie Raworth:

Giving up the deterrence…

Ed Davey:

But we’re not talking about that, in fact…

Yes but in the long run, I hope Mr. Putin goes but I’m not suggesting that we get rid of them any, anytime soon…

Sophie Raworth:

In the next few years…

Ed Davey:

Negotiations over the next few years. If you look at what Liberal Democrats have been saying on defence, we’ve actually been critical of the government for cutting back on things like the army. The Conservative government wants to cut the army by 10,000 troops to the smallest number since pre-Napoleonic times. Liberal Democrats have actually supported them when they’ve helped the Ukrainian army. That is good we really need to get behind the Ukrainians. But be in no doubt, we think the nuclear deterrent should stay. But in the long term, of course it would make a safer world if we could get rid of all nuclear weapons. I mean…

Sophie Raworth:

Let me just ask you about the story on the front page of the Mail on Sunday today. Is there a pact between Labour and the Lib Dems to get rid of the Tories in by-elections ahead.

Ed Davey:

There isn’t a pact. There is not going to be a pact.

Sophie Raworth:

You haven’t made any pact.

Ed Davey:

No. In fact, if you look at what we’re doing in these local elections, we’re fighting Labour in many areas in Hull, in Sunderland, in Sheffield, in Haringey, in Southwark, I could go on. This is pretty desperate from in the Conservatives. And I’m not surprised because lifelong Conservatives are switching away from them because they are really upset that we have a prime minister who’s not decent to run our country.

Sophie Raworth:

Ed Davey, thank you very much for joining me this morning.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk. He is Thursday editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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7 Comments

  • David Sheppard 2nd May '22 - 11:27am

    Ed is looking great and sounding great too. We are going to do well in these elections!

  • Brad Barrows 2nd May '22 - 11:35am

    Did other readers notice that Sophie Raworth gave Ed Davey 8 minutes on her show but gave Nicola Sturgeon 17 minutes? I understand that the SNP has 3 times as many MPs than the Liberal Democrats but when it comes down to local government – and it is council elections this week – the Liberal Democrats have far more councillors across the UK than the SNP has.

  • ….the story on the front page of the Mail on Sunday today…

    Unfortunately, far more people will see the Mail story than Ed’s interview..

    The Mail has as much regard for the truth as has Boris Johnson but, sadly, like much of the Mail’s output “”A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes “..

  • nigel hunter 2nd May '22 - 12:49pm

    Cutting the Army is ridiculous.
    Does she interrupt Johnson,s ministers like she did Ed?

  • Neil James Sandison 2nd May '22 - 1:35pm

    Sophie appeared to be being fed by the editor poorly researched questions straight out of the Daily Mail no wonder Andrew Marr moved on .

  • Denis Loretto 3rd May '22 - 7:49am

    As to the pact issue I think we should say that recent by-election wins by the Liberal Democrats show that the electorate are getting the point that the Tories can be beaten by intelligent tactical voting. No pacts required – just a decision to support the party most likely to beat the Tories in that constituency. Coupled with the obvious fact that parties put the most campaigning effort into seats they have a chance to win, what more is required?

  • Helen Dudden 3rd May '22 - 3:54pm

    Change needs to happen, can taxing the working class to the very edge of poverty be the answer?

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