Boris Johnson: Brexit can unite Britain with low tax, low migration economy

Brexit can be used to “unite the country” after it was driven apart by uncontrolled migration, Boris Johnson will say on Friday.

The former foreign secretary will argue that “big corporations have held wages down” because of their access to “unlimited pools” of cheap labour from abroad, and that controlling migration will allow Britain to have a pay rise.

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Johnson will also say ministers must “create the most favourable tax environment” to “stimulate the income we need” for the post-Brexit economy.

He will say that “no-one, rich or poor”, should pay more than 50 per cent of their income in tax, and that property-based taxes including council tax, stamp duty and business rates should be “bundled together” and spent at a local level.

The speech at the JCB headquarters in Rocester, Staffs., will be his third high-profile media appearance this week and is likely to be interpreted as a pitch to become Prime Minister if Theresa May is ousted.

The choice of venue is highly significant, as JCB chairman Lord Bamford, 73, has donated more than £4 million to the Conservative Party and also donated £100,000 to the Vote Leave campaign, which was led by Mr Johnson and Michael Gove.

By playing host to Mr Johnson, Lord Bamford appears to be sending a clear signal that he would back the former minister in any future leadership contest.

His intervention comes just three days before Theresa May must present a new version of her Brexit deal to Parliament, which will in turn be put to a vote on January 29.

Mr Johnson will urge the Government to focus on the “issues that drove Brexit” and “use this moment to become more productive and more dynamic”.

He will say: “Yes [Brexit] was about democracy…but that vote was also triggered by a feeling that in some way the people of this country have been drifting too far apart and in areas where we need to come together.

“We all know about boardroom pay and the huge expansion in the last 25 years of the gap between the remuneration of FTSE 100 CEOs and the average workers in their firms.

“We know one of the ways big corporations have held wages down is that they have had access to unlimited pools of labour from other countries.”

Despite being a free market capitalist and a “passionate believer” in the benefits of migration, Mr Johnson will say there must be a balance, and: “If an influx of labour is being used not only to prevent investment in capital equipment but also in the skills and prospects of young people then we need to think carefully about how we control immigration.”

Controlling immigration alone will not drive up wages, however, as the “productivity gap” between London and the rest of the UK must also be addressed, Mr Johnson will say.

The distribution of the Brexit vote, with London, Scotland and large areas of the south east voting Remain while most of the regions voted Leave, showed that “people felt that gap in attainments and prospects and that they wanted something done”, Mr Johnson will add.

“If we are to bring our nation together that means investing in great public services and safer streets, better hospitals, better transport links and better housing.”

Mr Johnson, currently ranked at 6/1 by bookmakers to become the next Tory leader, will suggest that the way to pay for better public services is through a low tax economy.

He will call for: “The most favourable tax environment with no new taxes and no increases in rates and no one rich or poor to pay more than 50 per cent of their income in tax – not because we want to create a tax haven for the rich but because that it is the way to stimulate the income we need to pay for this national programme of cohesion.”

In addition, he will say that council tax, business rates stamp duty, land tax and the annual tax on enveloped dwellings should all be given to local mayors and politicians to spend “so that they have clear incentives to go for growth”.

The JCB factory is just 16 miles from the pottery factory where Theresa May made her last-ditch appeal for support for her Brexit deal on Monday.

Sources close to Mr Johnson insisted the choice of venue was entirely coincidental, and that it had been booked long before Mrs May announced her visit to Stoke-on-Trent.

Source: Telegraph.co.uk

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