A Conservative MP has admitted feeling “haunted” by Boris Johnson’s manifesto-busting tax rise.
Speaking to the Telegraph, an anonymous Tory MP said he was worried that in a decade, “I will look back on my voting record and be haunted by it”. He added that he felt a “loss” of what he stood for.
The MP told the newspaper that, in recent months, “he had gone home to his partner and cried because of the decisions he had had to vote on, adding that he did not know what a Tory was any more.”
It follows prominent right-wing commentator Darren Grimes admitting he was “stupidly naive” for voting for the Conservatives in 2019, calling the government a “shower”.
Johnson will today attempt to convince Conservative MPs to back his plan to fix social care at a snap Commons vote called just one day after the manifesto-busting new policy was announced.
‘No more tax rises’
The prime minister took a political gamble on Tuesday as he scrapped an election promise by raising national insurance contributions to deal with the backlog in the NHS built up during Covid and to deliver long-overdue reform of the social care system in England.
Tory opposition to the plans when first leaked was fierce, but any backbench rebellion appeared to have subsided by Tuesday as MPs provided little challenge to the PM as he presented his proposals to the Commons.
But the plan – along with another manifesto-breaking announcement to temporarily suspend the “triple lock” on pensions – moves Johnson away from his traditional position of low-tax Conservatism.
The PM also refused to give a firm commitment that taxes would not go up again – although he said he did not want that to happen.
“I certainly don’t want any more tax rises in this Parliament. If you want me to give that emotional commitment, of course that’s the case,” he told a press conference in Downing Street, flanked by Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
He said: “There are not many people in the Conservative Party… who are more dedicated to cutting taxes, bearing down on taxes where we can, than the three people standing before you today, I absolutely assure you of the truth of that.”
Sunak added: “None of us standing here wants to be in a situation where we are raising taxes.”
Writing in The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, Javid said he appreciates the tax hike “does not sit easily with everyone”, but “no responsible government – especially a Conservative one – can bury its head in the sand and pass these problems on to the next one”.
However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank said the announcements meant tax revenues will reach the highest ever share of national income, and combined with previous announcements will raise the tax burden in the UK to the highest-ever sustained level.
Reports suggested some Cabinet members had privately challenged Johnson when he unveiled his plan to them on Tuesday morning, but none have resigned over the principle.
In the Commons, Tory backbencher Richard Drax (South Dorset) said: “As Conservatives, broken pledges and tax rises should concern us. Our finances are in a perilous state. Surely a radical review of the NHS is needed if this money is not to go and disappear into another blackhole?
“Does my right honourable friend agree with me that the Conservative way to raise revenue is to lower taxes not raise them?”
The prime ninister responded that he did agree with “that general proposition”, but that the pandemic had meant the rise was necessary.