Hammond hints tax pledge may be dropped

Philip Hammond in Washington

The chancellor has given a major hint that he is no fan of the 2015 Tory manifesto pledge not to raise income tax, national insurance or VAT.

After the embarrassing U-turn on the attempt to raise taxes for the self-employed, Philip Hammond told me the government needed "flexibility" on taxes.

The manifesto is not yet final, so no irreversible decisions have been taken.

The chancellor said he didn't come into politics to "increase taxes".

But it is the clearest hint yet that Mr Hammond would like to see the 2015 manifesto promise on taxes significantly amended if not abandoned all together.

"We do need flexibility to manage the system and we do need to make sure that Theresa May and her government have a clear mandate to execute our plan," he told me.

"All chancellors would prefer to have more flexibility in how they manage the economy and how they manage the overall tax burden down [rather] than having to have their hands constrained.

"But what we put in the manifesto will be decided in the next few days and we will publish that."

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