The Great Debate UK

UK high-flyers should brace for bad news

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– Neil Collins is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Election first, manifesto afterwards. While there may be a Conservative prime minister in Downing Street, quite a few among the millions who voted for David Cameron will have a shock when they see the price they are paying for his pact with the more left-leaning Liberal Democrats.

Nobody seriously expected the current 18 percent rate for capital gains tax to last. But the plan to raise it to “rates similar or close to those applied to income” could imply a top rate of 50 percent. The question now is whether it will apply from the date of the emergency budget, promised for 50 days hence, or only from next year.

The Conservatives’ crowd-pleasing pledge to raise the threshold for inheritance tax to a million pounds had already been downgraded to an aspiration. Now that’s gone, at least for this parliament. Meanwhile, “unacceptable bonuses” in banking are to be subjected to “robust action”.

New UK coalition deserves 7 out of 10

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– Hugo Dixon is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The new UK coalition deserves 7 out of 10. The pact between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, led by David Cameron as the new prime minister, seems determined to address the country’s most important problem — the deficit. This is vital given that the euro zone debt crisis could still prove contagious. It should also be positive for sterling.

Crisis, what crisis?

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– The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. –

 Crisis, what crisis? That could be motto for the election manifestos published by Britain’s main political parties this week. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives addressed the country’s fiscal crisis head-on.

Tories panic with tax cut pledge

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NeilCollinsNeil Collins is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own

National Insurance contributions make an unlikely battleground for the British election. They lack the sexiness of income tax cuts. But NI is a bad tax and the Tories are right to pledge to overturn Labour’s plan to raise it.

Unfortunately, their timing smacks of desperation as their poll lead melts away. More to the point, it flies in the face of their commitment to cut Britain’s vast budget deficit.

The toughest Budget ever

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david-kuo_motley-foolthumbnail– David Kuo is a director at the financial Web site The Motley Fool. The views expressed are his own. –

The 2009 Budget could be the toughest that any Chancellor will ever have to produce. There is a gaping hole in the country’s finances. Alistair Darling, as custodian of the country’s cheque book, has to find a way to plug it. Not bridge it, not tiptoe around it, not spin across it, but to close it before it gets bigger.

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