The Tories sought to play down suggestions they are planning tax rises should they win the general election – as it was claimed Theresa May and Philip Hammond were split over the issue. The Chancellor as hinted he would like to drop the party’s 2015 manifesto pledge not to put up income tax, VAT or national insurance contributions – saying he needs “flexibility” in managing the economy. Last month he was forced into a Budget U-turn over national insurance for the self employed – deciding not to raise contributions after admitting the plans broke the “spirit” of the manifesto. ‘Tax bombshell’ His latest comments were seized on by Labour, which accused the Tories of planning “a tax bombshell”. The Liberal Democrats suggested a Tory government would punish the “white van man”. However, the Financial Times reported that aides to the Chancellor in Washington DC – where he is attending an IMF meeting – were insisting no decision had been taken on whether to drop the tax pledge. Mrs May said the Tories remained the party of “lower taxes” but refused to repeat the 2015 manifesto promise. At a campaign event on Saturday in Dudley, West Midlands, the Prime Minister said voters faced a choice between “lower taxes under the Conservatives or higher taxes under Labour”. ‘Brexit black hole’ But she would not be drawn on whether the previous commitment under David Cameron not to raise taxes would be included in the party’s manifesto.