3 min read
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have rebuffed calls from Tory MPs to abandon plans to raise National Insurance this April.
There have been growing calls among Tory MPs for the rise to be scrapped or delayed, and it had been reported that the PM was “wobbling” over going ahead with the policy.
But writing in The Sunday Times, Johnson and Sunak claimed that the 1.25 percentage point tax rise, dubbed the health and social care levy, was the “right plan” to help raise funds for the NHS.
“It is progressive: the burden falls most on those who can most afford it,” they wrote.
“Every penny of that £39 billion will go on crucial objectives — including nine million more checks, scans and operations, and 50,000 more nurses, as well as boosting social care.”
The pair insisted that they were still “tax-cutting Conservatives” and that they believed “people are the best judges of how to spend their money”.
In other developments:
– Liz Truss told the BBC’s Sophie Raworth that “it is highly likely” that Putin is planning to invade Ukraine. The UK confirmed on Sunday it would commit extra forces to Nato allies as tension in the region mounts.
– The foreign secretary also claimed it was “a bit of a mess that we have the police investigation alongside the Sue Gray report”, but insisted that it remained the government’s “intention to publish the full report”.
– Senior Tory MP Tom Tugendhat has publicly stated he would consider running for Tory leader if a contest was triggered, telling Times Radio on Saturday that “it’s up to all of us to put ourselves forward”.
– The Telegraph reports that Dan Rosenfield, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, spent the day at a cricket match three days before the fall of Kabul, amid growing scrutiny into the Downing Street operation.
Foreign secretary Liz Truss also stood firm on the tax hike, telling Sky’s Trevor Phillips that it was a “difficult decision” but was necessary because of the “extraordinary circumstance we face”.
“I think the public appreciates that we spent a lot of money during COVID We do need to pay that money back,” she said.
Truss added that Johnson and Sunak had made it “very, very clear” that they “want to see taxes come down” and that the government remained “committed” to cutting taxes in the future.
There has been widespread opposition to the tax hike from all sides of the debate, with many Tory MPs urging Johnson to think again on the policy.
Senior Tory MP Robert Halfon told the BBC on Sunday that the government should “think again” on the National Insurance increase, and proposed a “windfall tax on big business” as an alternative.
“I just want the Government to go back to being the Government that was elected in 2019 and put cutting the cost of living first and foremost, and helping struggling families across the country,” he said.
His concerns were echoed by Tory MP and former cabinet minister John Redwood, who wrote in The House earlier this week that the tax would “make work less worthwhile and damage businesses struggling to rebuild”.
“There is no case for a National Insurance hike. People need to keep more of their pay to meet their bills… The Treasury has found far more money down the sofa than the National Insurance raise would yield,” he wrote.
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