By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
The Chancellor is going to dodge questions in the Commons over his Budget, which has increasingly turned into a farce.
Some Labour members have branded Osborne a “chicken” and even compared him to the cowardly lion, that features in The Wizard of Oz.
John McDonnell the Shadow Chancellor plans to lay into the Chancellor for telling Tory MPs to back I his statement, even though it has a £4.4bn black hole.
However, Osborne will not face McDonnell today and will go AWOL for 24 hours, and will face questions in the Commons tomorrow instead. David Gauke, much more junior than Osborne, might take his place today.
Labour MPs branded the Chancellor a “chicken,” Shadow Solicitor General Jo Stevens said: “He thinks he’s untouchable. He isn’t”. Shadow Commons Leader Chris Bryant tweeted: “If Osborne really puts up Gauke he will regret his folly. A real sign he’s frit. And losing authority.”
Mr McDonnell said: “It’s unacceptable to the country and insulting to Parliament that the Chancellor is not turning up.
“It is deeply disappointing that George Osborne is cowardly hiding behind his junior minister instead of showing some leadership in a crisis of his own making.”
The pressure is growing on the Chancellor, but the David Cameron retains full confidence in him, Mr Cameron’s spokeswoman said: “The PM recognises that we have faced global and economic challenges, we’ve faced a big deficit and debt to bring down, and therefore (faced) tough decisions about how we are a country that lives within its means.
“He has worked very closely with the Chancellor and other Ministers on that to date, and will continue to do so.”