Labour accuse Conservatives of being ‘out of touch’ on Blackpool campaign visit

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Labour is optimistic about its prospects of securing a by-election victory in Blackpool South.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has accused the Conservatives of being “out of touch” as she visited Blackpool ahead of next month’s by-election.

The shadow chancellor was joined by Jonathan Ashworth, shadow paymaster general, and the party’s parliamentary candidate, Chris Webb, to unveil the party’s latest advert, focusing on a “tax double whammy” that Labour says will leave families £870 worse off.

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Ms Reeves’ visit came less than a month before voters go to the polls in a parliamentary by-election in Blackpool South, after the resignation of former Conservative MP Scott Benton, who was caught in a lobbying sting and found to have breached Commons rules.

Shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, and Chris Webb during their campaign in Blackpool (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)Shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, and Chris Webb during their campaign in Blackpool (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, and Chris Webb during their campaign in Blackpool (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire) | Peter Byrne/PA Wire

In a stump speech at Blackpool Cricket Club, Ms Reeves said: “If you listen to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, and we heard it in the budget last month, the taxes are coming down, the economy has turned a corner, their plan is working.

“Well, all that goes to show is how out of touch they are with the reality faced by ordinary British people.

“Things might look all right from 10,000 feet up in Rishi Sunak’s helicopter, but down here on planet Earth and here in Blackpool South people are still being squeezed by the Conservatives’ cost of living crisis.”

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Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth campaigning in Blackpool (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth campaigning in Blackpool (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth campaigning in Blackpool (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire) | Peter Byrne/PA Wire

She said council tax hikes and frozen thresholds for national insurance and income tax would make the average family worse off overall.

The figures are based on forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility which show tax rises from frozen personal allowances will amount to £41.1 billion by the end of the decade, while tax cuts over the same period total just £21.4 billion.

Ms Reeves said: “After 14 years of working people footing the bill for Tory chaos, it’s time for change.

“Rishi Sunak should end the chaos, call an election and give the public the chance to vote for a changed Labour Party that will change Britain for the better.”

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Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth greet Chris Webb during their campaign in Blackpool (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth greet Chris Webb during their campaign in Blackpool (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth greet Chris Webb during their campaign in Blackpool (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire) | Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Treasury minister Bim Afolami said: “Because of the progress we have made, the economy is turning a corner. This has meant Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives have been able to afford tax cuts – putting £900 back in the pockets of the average worker.

“As part of this plan, we have committed to phase out national insurance altogether. We’ll do so over the long term, when it is economically responsible to do so, ending the unfair double tax on work.

“This will result in a simpler tax system which rewards and incentivises hard work.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth  campaigning in Blackpool (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth  campaigning in Blackpool (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth campaigning in Blackpool (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire) | Peter Byrne/PA Wire

“Despite all their talk Labour have no plan to cut the burden of tax. Instead, their plans for unfunded spending and their 2030 decarbonisation promise would mean thousands in extra tax for working families taking them back to square one.”

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With a Conservative majority of just 3,690, Labour is optimistic about its prospects of securing a by-election victory in Blackpool South, its eighth gain since 2019.

Voters across England and Wales will also take part in local elections on the same day, May 2.

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