‘That’s not even close, is it?’ Burley puts Rishi Sunak ally on spot over Thatcher pledge

Sunak supporter defends his tax rises after Thatcher comment

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Gillian Keegan, minister of state for care and mental health since 2021, faced fierce questioning from Ms Burley on Sky News over her support of Rishi Sunak. The pair repeatedly interrupted each other as they compared Ms Thatcher’s record of tax cuts to Mr Sunak’s pledges to raise the tax burden and increase corporation tax to 25 percent. Ms Keegan continually claimed Mr Sunak is in a “totally different situation” by way of justification for the confusing notion that one can raise taxes but still be in line with the Thatcherite philosophy of low taxes and high growth.  

Ms Burley said: “It says here he is going to run the economy like Margaret Thatcher. That’s not even close though, is it?” 

Ms Keegan said: “What do you mean?” 

Ms Burley said: “Well, I mean that, in March Rishi Sunak said he would raise the UK’s tax burden to its highest level in 70 years. Maggie Thatcher was never going to do that, was she?” 

Ms Keegan said: “But you make your decisions based on the times that you are in. 

“I think that is why all the former chancellors have said they back Rishi’s plan and that they think Margaret Thatcher would as well.

“Because, obviously, she did not have to deal with the pandemic. Obviously, we did not have the exact same situation in terms of war in Ukraine. 

“Obviously there was the Falklands war but that was a lot further away. So, your times are your times. You get the hand that you’re dealt.” 

Ms Burley said: “So, you can’t say that you’re going to run the economy like Margaret Thatcher did then, can you?” 

Ms Keegan said: “Sensibly, you mean.” 

Ms Burley said: “[Ms Thatcher] cut corporation tax from 52 percent to 34 percent, income tax, I’ve got the figures in front of me, from 33 percent to 25 percent. 

“Rishi Sunak plans to raise corporation tax from 19 to 25 percent and have no immediate impact on tax.” 

Ms Keegan said: “What were the numbers you mentioned regarding Margaret Thatcher? 52 to what?” 

Ms Burley said: “52 to 34”. “Yeah,” responded Ms Keegan, “and today it is 19.” 

She added: “We are in a totally different situation. It’s not just about where the arrow points. It is about the rate and how it compares to other countries.” 


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The Conservative leadership contest was whittled down to six candidates yesterday as Mr Sunak took the highest number of votes among MPs. 

The first round of the ballot afforded the former chancellor 88 votes, with Penny Mordaunt emerging as the close challenger with 67. 

Foreign secretary Liz Truss came in third with 50 votes as Kemi Badenoch, Tom Tugendhat and Suella Braverman brought up the rear. 

However, a recent YouGov poll of Tory Party members outside Members of Parliament found that Ms Mordaunt leads the contest with nearly 27 percent of the vote. 


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