Could Boris Johnson’s tax grab cost him the next Election? PM faces 100-strong Tory protest over his £12billion social care programme
- Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith spearheaded mounting protests
- Party MPs in seats seized from Labour went further and branded it a disaster
- One said privately: ‘This is a Red Wall tax in all but name and it’s a gift to Labour’
Boris Johnson faces a 100-strong Tory protest over his controversial £12 billion social care programme amid claims it could cost him the next Election.
Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith spearheaded mounting protests last night at a ‘chaotic’ tax hike plan, which set the Government adrift from true Conservative values.
But party MPs in seats seized from Labour in the North and Midlands went further to brand the National Insurance rise a disaster that spelt ‘doom’ for the party at the next Election.
One said privately: ‘This is a Red Wall tax in all but name and it’s a gift to Labour.’
The fears come amid research from the TaxPayers’ Alliance that the new NI levy will disproportionately affect workers in the North and Midlands, as well as working people compared to the retired.
Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith spearheaded mounting protests last night at a ‘chaotic’ tax hike plan, which set the Government adrift from true Conservative values
Rebels now claim there are as many as 100 Tory MPs in a so-called ‘awkward squad’ organising against the plans. And they warned that revolts in further votes on the plans this week could surpass last week’s, where five Tories voted against and more than 35 abstained despite being warned they could bring down the Government if the measure was defeated.
Senior Tory MP Marcus Fysh last night warned: ‘Without much greater explanation and concessions, the Government faces a potentially much greater rebellion from the Tory benches this week.’
Branding the tax rise plans ‘ill-thought-out’, he added that the Tories abandoned their ‘hard-earned’ reputation as the party of low taxes ‘at our peril’. Leaders of the group are set to meet Chancellor Rishi Sunak tomorrow ahead of further votes on the NI proposals on Tuesday in a debate on the Health and Social Care Levy Bill.
In a hugely controversial move last week, the Prime Minister ordered Tory MPs to vote though a 1.25 per cent rise in NI from next April, initially to raise £36 billion in three years mostly to combat Covid-related NHS waiting lists and then to fund radical reforms to help spare people having to sell their homes to fund social care.
Mr Johnson justified the move by insisting his Government ‘will not duck the tough decisions needed to get NHS patients the treatment they need and to fix our broken social care system’.
Senior Tory MP Marcus Fysh (left) last night warned: ‘Without much greater explanation and concessions, the Government faces a potentially much greater rebellion from the Tory benches this week’
But the NI rise – breaking a clear manifesto pledge in the 2019 election manifesto that delivered Mr Johnson an 80-strong majority in the Commons – has plunged his party into a bitter civil war and identity crisis. Writing in the MoS today, David Mellor – who served in Margaret Thatcher’s government – criticises Mr Johnson for committing a ‘fundamental breach’ of Conservative principles.
There were also complaints that last week’s vote was only won because Tory whips ‘bullied’ new MPs into believing the measure amounted to a ‘vote of confidence’ in Mr Johnson and the Government could fall if it was defeated.
And there was anger over claims that No 10 had deliberately fuelled rumours of a reshuffle to deter rebels hopeful of a ministerial job or promotion.
Last night, party insiders said the PM may have made an ‘error’ by not holding the reshuffle last Thursday as widely trailed.
They warned Mr Johnson risked becoming ‘the boy who cried wolf’ if reshuffles were endlessly mooted without actually taking place.
However, one Minister warned that Mr Johnson ‘doesn’t like sacking people’ and knows they ‘create more enemies and only make a handful of people happy’. No sooner had the Government won last week’s vote than rumours of the shake-up subsided – only for some to forecast that it would now take place this week, once the care levy Bill had got through the Commons.
Last night, another Minister dismissed talk of a further major rebellion this week, claiming that Tory rebels had made their protest last week and were unlikely to repeat it.