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Tories to scrap inheritance tax in ‘big throw of the dice’, says Osborne

In Europe
June 04, 2024

The Conservatives will pledge to abolish inheritance tax in “one big throw of the tax dice” to try and save themselves from electoral wipeout, George Osborne has said.

The former chancellor described the proposal to get rid of death duties as a “potent weapon” in the Tories’ arsenal, which they are likely to reach for given their standing in the polls.

Speaking on his Political Currency podcast, Mr Osborne said: “I still am waiting for one big throw of the tax dice. We haven’t heard from the Tories on tax, and I think a pledge to abolish inheritance tax – or all but abolish inheritance tax – is probably coming down the track.”

In 2007, while the Tories were in opposition, he pledged to effectively scrap inheritance tax by raising the threshold to £1 million.

He told the podcast on Tuesday: “Whether it will have the same impact in 2024, I question – but if you’re throwing everything at this election, it seems quite likely you’d reach for that tool in the toolkit.”

It comes after Jeremy Hunt last month described the tax as “profoundly anti-Conservative” and said the Tories would end taxes that discouraged people from earning more money.

Mr Osborne said he believed that inheritance tax had “a particular purchase in politics way beyond the numbers of people directly affected each year”.

He added: “Partly because for every estate that pays inheritance tax, there are quite a lot of individuals who benefit from that, different children and grandchildren, and because of rising house prices, lots of people think they’re going to be in the inheritance tax net in the future, so sometimes the numbers are a bit misleading.

“It also is a much-hated tax, so it’s a very potent weapon for the Conservatives and I think there will be loads of pressure so try something big.”

Mr Osborne warned the Tories that “you can’t fatten the pig on market day”, adding that he was “sceptical” such an announcement would “dramatically change the weather” given the party’s standing in the polls. He said: “But I might be, as a Conservative Party member, pleasantly surprised.”

Analysis by YouGov, released on Tuesday, predicted that Labour was on course to win 422 seats in the Commons, beating Sir Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997. It would leave the Tories with just 140 seats – their worst performance since 1906.

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