Tory minister, Andrea Leadsom, has appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme where she was asked questions about the government's intentions for business rates going forward and reducing the tax burden.
Speaking to Nick Robinson, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was intensely scrutinised by the veteran political analyst who wanted to get a better understanding of what the Tories plan to do with business rates and how it will affect local councils.
Councils are very, very dependent on business rates. It's about a third of their revenues. It was zero a decade ago.
So, it's quite simple, isn't it? Council spending goes up or council spending has to go down or you have to put up the taxes of the rest of us if you are actually going to reduce business rates.
So, which of those appeals?
In response, Leadsom said:
Well, those aren't the options that are necessarily open. What we want to do is restructure business rates and make sure that we make it fairer so high street shops aren't penalised against online businesses.
It is vital that businesses pay their fair share of tax. What we've seen that since we've reduced corporation tax from 28 per cent to 19 per cent, making it the lowest in the G20, is that we've seen an increase in the amount of tax taken by the exchequer and it's businesses that are contributing to the public services that we all want to see invested in.
Robinson wasn't convinced by that answer.
Sure but you say that some businesses will pay more so that those high street businesses will pay less.
Leadsom said that she wasn't saying that which puzzled Robinson who asked her "where the money was coming from then?"
The Tory then uttered the immortal line of
You're assuming that money comes from somewhere. What I'm trying to explain to you is that since our headline reduction in the rate of corporation tax the HMRC's tax intake has actually increased by something like 45 per cent.
"You're assuming that money comes from somewhere."
Yes, that's something that an actual government minister said in 2019. To be honest, we think that she had already answered her question but she didn't seem to realise that.
As you can imagine, Twitter have had a field day with this sound bite.
Even Robinson mocked her.