Readers with literary inclinations will be familiar with the works of Lewis Carroll. He was the mathematician who wrote Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. This columnist might just have stumbled on the final volume of an eccentric trilogy, Alice in Drugland.
At the time of writing, over two-thirds of those mad hatters who have thrown their headwear into the ring to become next Prime Minister have admitted to histories of taking illegal drugs. Three of the leading contenders have also announced policies for tax changes that suggest they may still be under the influence.
Last week, this column focused on Dominic Raab (Hon. Member for Cannabis Central). Ignoring his desire to prorogue parliament, the kind of activity normally associated with murderous dictators behind the Iron Curtain or in South America not to mention Carroll’s Queen of Hearts (“off with his head”). This gentleman also has left-field views on tax.
His proposal is to cut the basic rate of income tax to 15%, which will cost the country £40 billion a year. Quite where he expects to find this staggering sum from the occupants of austerity Britain, where almost all expenditure has already been cut to the bone, is unclear.
Next into the ring comes Michael Gove (Hon. Member for Cocaine and Hypocrisy). While undoubtedly a shining light when it comes to drug use, Mr Gove also has a novel solution to simplify our tax system.
His plan is to scrap VAT and replace it with something simpler. In addition, this new, child-friendly plan will tax sales at reduced rates, presumably noticeably lower than current levels.
Once again, this Honourable Member is silent on how these changes are to be funded, suggesting that neither he nor his advisers have bothered to think them through so far.
Our colleagues in the VAT industry will be horrified at this proposal, which could increase unemployment in the profession overnight. The typical VAT expert is probably not going to be inclined to re-train in the field of a new, simpler tax and, logically, so might simply head for Dublin or another European city where his or her skills will continue to be appreciated and properly rewarded.
On the plus side, if Mr Gove really did manage to simplify the tax system, he would get three cheers from everybody else in the country.
Never one to be outdone, Boris Johnson (Hon. Member for Cocaine and Denial) has delved deep into the Lewis Carroll archive of absurdity for his own tax plan. Ignoring the 95% of people who will be no better off as a direct result, this Mad Hatter wants to increase the threshold for higher rate taxes from £50,000 to £80,000. This will be paid for in part by a Brexit bonus that he read about on the side of a bus with the remainder of the funding coming from an increase in everybody’s favourite stealth tax National Insurance Contributions.
It is very hard to imagine that Philip Hammond (Hon. Member for Dullness and Conformity) will meet favour with any of these candidates and therefore we will be looking for a new Chancellor of the exchequer in the autumn.
This columnist pities whichever poor devil gets the job and is obliged to implement any one of these plans. Who knows, perhaps this trio will create an alliance and agree that whoever becomes the next prime minister will implement all three?
There should have been an obvious candidate. However, since David Gauke (Hon. Member for Clean Living) is level-headed, understands his topic and, subject to any imminent revelations, did not spend his youth (or more recent times) off his head on Coke or Mary Jane, his chances seem slim. Even worse for the Conservative Party and the country, this Honourable Member’s esteemed constituents are currently trying to deselect him the cardinal sin of desiring peace and harmony.
As Lewis Carroll might be eager to note, there is only one obvious conclusion to Alice in Drugland - by the start of 2020, Jeremy Corbyn (Hon. Member for Blind Eye Turning) will be Prime Minister.