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UK Government’s tax rate U-turn shows ‘utter ineptitude’, says Sturgeon

The announcement the top rate of tax would be scrapped spooked the market and prompted a response from the Bank of England.

Kwasi Kwarteng
Kwasi Kwarteng

The Chancellor’s tax U-turn shows the “utter ineptitude” of the UK Government, Scotland’s First Minister has said.

Kwasi Kwarteng announced early on Monday that the scrapping of the top rate of tax would not go ahead in the wake of market upheaval.

The pound dropped to its lowest level against the dollar after the announcement and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Bank of England intervened.

Following the mini-budget in September, members of the Conservatives, led by the Scottish Tories, pushed the Scottish Government to follow suit.

Reacting to the news on Twitter, Nicola Sturgeon said those who called on her government to replicate the tax cut should “be reflecting this morning”.

“UK gov U-turns on top tax rate abolition because it’s a ‘distraction’,” she wrote.

“Morally wrong and hugely costly for millions is a better description. Utter ineptitude.

“Perhaps those who slammed @scotgov for not immediately following suit should also be reflecting this morning.”

But speaking to the BBC in the hours after the tax cut was scrapped, Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy said the Scottish Government should pass on the cut to the basic rate of tax – which will still go ahead – and reforms of the Scottish equivalent of stamp duty.

When asked if the Scottish Government should go ahead with the cut to the top rate of tax regardless of Monday’s climbdown, Mr Hoy said that was “not an objective of the (UK) Government”.

“The question now for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP is are they going to continue with a tax system in Scotland that is less competitive than the rest of the UK,” he said.

“They should be doing something on Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) to make sure our housing market is as competitive as the rest of the UK.

“And they should be doing something on the (basic rate) of tax, because ultimately, 2.3 million Scots could benefit from a tax cut and that would lead to a huge boost in the economy.

“I look forward to Nicola Sturgeon explaining how she is going to put growth into the Scottish economy.”

Mr Hoy went on to say he did not think the Chancellor was “finished”, adding that both Prime Minister Liz Truss and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross would still be in post by Christmas.

Reports have suggested dissatisfaction with Mr Ross’s leadership in recent weeks but the Scottish Tory chairman said such “mutterings” were usually “blown out of proportion” by the time they are reported by the media.

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