Boris Johnson urged by senior Tories to ditch or delay National Insurance tax hike

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Boris Johnson urged by senior Tories to ditch or delay National Insurance tax hike

The pressure on Boris Johnson to cancel his planned hike in National Insurance tax on workers has been ramped up by two Conservative ex-Cabinet ministers.

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Former Brexit Secretary David Davis urged the Prime Minister to cancel the health and social care levy’s introduction in April “in the interest of working families and the growth of the economy”.

Robert Jenrick, who voted for the 1.25 per cent tax increase when he was housing secretary, meanwhile said the hike should be delayed to help families struggling with the cost of living.

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It comes after Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg reportedly urged the Prime Minister to abandon the tax hike in a Cabinet meeting earlier this month.

Mr Johnson is under increasing pressure to act with Tory MPs threatening to oust him from office, inflation running at 5.4 per cent, the highest rate in 30 years, and energy bills likely to soar this spring amid a spike in wholesale gas prices.

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The senior Tories’ call for a rethink came as the Mail on Sunday claimed that Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the frontrunner to take over as PM if Mr Johnson is forced out of office, has been referring to the levy as “the Prime Minister’s tax” in meetings with MPs, although this was denied by a Treasury source.

Despite the pressure, Downing Street is understood to be resisting calls to cancel or delay the tax rise, believing it is vital to generate £12bn a year for two of Mr Johnson’s biggest priorities in tackling the NHS Covid backlog and reforming social care.

Mr Sunak is instead believed to be considering giving poorer families direct payments from the Government to soften the impact of rising energy bills.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab admitted of the levy on Sunday: “I would much rather that we didn’t have to do it.”

But on Times Radio he said the Covid pandemic had given the public finances a “walloping” which meant the Govenrment had to look at raising money to fix social care, particularly with an ageing population.

“I think (the tax rise) is because there’s an absence of an alternative to deal with social care, which is a critical issue facing families up and down the country,” he said.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Jenrick said the Government was “turning its mind” to a cost of living crisis “lamentably slowly”.

He said the quickest way to “alleviate pressures on household budgets would be to postpone the hike” which would “also show the Government’s Conservative instincts remain”.

Mr Jenrick also called for “targeted measures that are focused on low and middle-income families”.

And he suggested Mr Johnson reduce the UK’s exposure to volatile energy markets by using more domestic oil and gas, despite his commitment to net zero carbon emissions.

“It is absurd that we have foregone cheap, reliable energy in the name of saving the planet, only to import it at higher prices from abroad – in the process, ceding jobs and creating vulnerabilities to unsavoury actors,” Mr Jenrick said.

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