Labour caught in tax credit muddle

John McDonnell
John McDonnell
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SHADOW Chancellor John McDonnell has promised he would reverse the Conservatives’ planned tax credit cuts after another day of confusion for Labour.

Mr McDonnell made the pledge just hours after another member of the shadow treasury team refused to commit a future Labour government to restoring tax credits to current levels.

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Seema Malhotra was repeatedly asked on The Andrew Marr Show if Labour would restore tax credits if the planned changes go through.

She said: “We don’t believe these cuts should go forward from next April.”

When asked again if she would reverse the planned cuts, she said: “We are saying we don’t want them to go forward now.”

But later in the day Mr McDonnell moved to clarify Labour’s position on Twitter, saying: “We are calling on Osborne to reverse his decision to cut tax credits.

“If he doesn’t reverse these cuts, we’re making it clear that we will.”

The mixed messages came just days after Mr McDonnell was forced to admit in the Commons he had made an “embarassing” U-turn over Labour’s support for Chancellor George Osborne’s fiscal charter.

Labour will stage a Commons debate on Tuesday calling on Mr Osborne to halt planned changes to tax credits which, it is claimed, will see 3.2 million families lose £1,300 on average.

Ahead of the debate, the party released figures suggesting 71 Conservative MPs across the country would be at risk of losing their seats if families receiving tax credits turned against the Government.

Andrea Jenkyns (Morley and Outwood). Stuart Andrew (Pudsey), Kris Hopkins (Keighley), Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley) and Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) were among those identified as having majorities smaller than the number of families in their constituencies who could lose out under the changes.

Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy is among a number of Conservative backbenchers to express concerns about the cuts.