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Shadow Chancellor, Michael Portillo
"With old Labour, tax rises were a manifesto promise: with new Labour, they are a budget surprise"
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Stuart Wheeler chief executive of IG Index
who has made two large donations to the Tory party
 real 28k

Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 21:30 GMT 22:30 UK
Blair rattled, says Hague
Tory leader William Hague
William Hague: Says Tony Blair is "panicking"
Conservative leader William Hague has accused Tony Blair of being "rattled" by the prospect of a Conservative revival.

Speaking at his party's last evening rally of the campaign, Mr Hague attacked the prime minister, saying he had failed to deliver on election promises.

And he said a vote for the Conservatives would be a vote for lower taxes.

He pledged that taxes would be cut across the board for families and businesses, pensioners and drivers.


He is seriously rattled by the prospect of a Conservative revival

William Hague on Tony Blair

Mr Hague, speaking at Rocester, Staffordshire, outlined how the Tories would cut taxes.

Among his promises were that a million pensioners would no longer have to pay tax and that tax on petrol would be reduced by 6p a litre.

And he went on the offensive against the prime minister.

"The truth is Tony Blair says one thing and does another.

"He blames the media for stifling debate on issues, while refusing to engage in grown-up debate with his opponents.

'Startled look'

"From the panicky tone of his voice today and the startled look in his eye, he is seriously rattled by the prospect of a Conservative revival", he said.

Earlier, shadow chancellor Michael Portillo had gone on the offensive over tax.

"Labour have spent four years putting up taxes and if we were to give them the chance they would do the same in the coming parliament," he said.

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Shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude issued a warning over Labour's plan to "scrap the pound".

"Were Labour to be re-elected on Thursday, they would, the day after, start a no-holds-barred campaign using tens of millions of taxpayers' money to make scrapping the pound and joining the euro inevitable."

He added: "This election isn't over until the fat lady sings and she hasn't even cleared her throat yet."

Meanwhile Mr Hague was questioned by voters on the BBC Election call programme.

Asylum seeker

A 24-year-old Kosovan named Bekim, who had been waiting for his asylum application result for a year, quizzed Mr Hague.

Mr Hague told him he would have had his asylum case dealt with much more quickly under the Tories.

"You shouldn't have to wait two or three years."

But Bekim said that the detention centres planned by the Tories were "like jails".

'Kill or be killed'

"Hitler put the Jews in detention centres and he killed everyone.

"You will put us in detention centres and you will send us back.

"For 99% of Kosovan asylum seekers it is a 50-50 chance to be killed or to kill."

Mr Hague said: "You have had a dreadful experience which most people in this country cannot even imagine."

He said that a "a very large proportion" of the people who came from Kosovo had a genuine case but that did not mean that "abuse of the system" was acceptable.

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