Boris Johnson has insisted he is not planning to ease restrictions on bosses’ pay or lift the cap on bankers’ bonuses as millions feel the strain of the cost-of-living crisis.
The prime minister also said it remains “the plan” to raise corporation tax but sought to attribute the policy to chancellorRishi Sunak amid suggestions of a policy rift.
A leaked letter seen by the i newspaper showed No 10 chief of staff Steve Barclay presenting a post-Brexit plan to remove pay restrictions on non-executive directors.
And Mr Johnson, when he was London mayor in 2013, blasted a European Union rule limiting bankers’ bonuses to twice their salary as “possibly the most deluded measure to come from Europe since Diocletian tried to fix the price of groceries across the Roman Empire”.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Johnson of plotting “pay rises for City bankers, pay cuts for district nurses”.
As the prime minister attended a Commonwealth summit in Rwanda on Thursday, he faced questions over whether he will use his new Brexit freedoms to allow bigger bonuses for bankers.
“We’re not doing that. We have no plans for the measures you describe,” he said.
“But what we are doing is making sure that we look after people who are facing tough times because of the spike in the cost of energy in particular and other prices, and we are doing that with the fiscal firepower we have built up – £1,200 coming to people, the money starts coming in to people’s bank accounts at the end of this month.”
The Times has reported that Mr Johnson wants to stop Mr Sunak’s budget plan to raise corporation tax from 19 per cent to 25 per cent in April.
Asked if the increase will go ahead, Mr Johnson said: “That’s the plan that the Chancellor has set out. But these are fiscal matters and I would be unwise to trespass into his territory.”