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Rishi Sunak accused of trying to 'bully' Northern Tory MPs into accepting rise in fuel duty

RED WALL Tory MPs have accused the Treasury of trying to “bully” them into accepting a rise in fuel duty.

The new MPs – mainly across the North – have been told they need to “stick together” and that “things are going to change” in the Budget next month.


Chancellor Rishi Sunak has held meetings with around 100 MPs to warn of stringent measures next month.

One MP said: “He’s been saying in meetings, ‘times are going to be tough, things are going to change, but we need unity, and we’ll be better off together’.”

When MPs quiz him about a backlash from voters, they’re told: “Stick in there and we will look after you.”

One MP said: ”We have to pay off the debt from the pandemic but it must not be by fleecing motorists anymore.

“They are being screwed from all sides.

“I stood on tax cuts and won, I'd be crucified if I supported an increase in filling up tax.

“I'm not being bullied into doing that.”

Another ‘Red Waller’ said: “In rural areas like mine it’s frankly impossible to get around without a car – a rise in fuel duty will see the wrong people paying for the cost of the pandemic.”

Last week the Chancellor addressed MPs at the 1922 Committee and reassured them over the upcoming Budget.

A rise in fuel duty will see the wrong people paying for the cost of the pandemic.

He told them: “At the heart of the Budget will be fairness and honesty.

“We have difficult decisions to make, but I assure you, that if we come together as a team, the British people will respect our decency and candour.

“I don’t expect anyone to do something I wouldn’t do myself. So what difficult choices there are, I will be first up making the arguments and defending you all.”

Today former Chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility Sir Robert Chote told Times Radio that there is a stronger case to end the freeze on the rise in fuel duty, saying the Treasury now need to “bite the bullet”.

He said: “I think the pressures to think again about it at a time when you're having to reevaluate the public finances as a whole.

“It's clearly a stronger case now for the people who'd like to see some more action on the back of that than it has been in the past."

Many MPs have been vocal in urging the Chancellor to rethink his plan to increase fuel duty.

The Sun and campaigners have managed to keep it frozen for ten years.

Tory MP Robert Halfon said: "Levelling up must mean cutting the cost of living for working people.

“At a time when those on lower incomes are struggling financially, a fuel duty increase would level down – far from building back better and would damage the foundations of economic recovery.”

'POLITICAL SUICIDE'

And Tory MP Craig Mackinlay added: “Fuel duty rises are not supported by the public because they are bad for the economy, bad for business and bad for jobs. 

“Motorists in the poorest 10 per cent of the UK population already spend proportionately twice as much of their disposable income on fuel as wealthier groups so increasing fuel duty will have a disproportionate tax impact. 

“The Chancellor must reject the green lobby’s calls and continue the successful and popular freeze on fuel duty.”

Campaigner Howard Cox, from FairFuelUK said: "Rishi is risking political suicide by breaking Boris’s promise to the nation at his landslide election, especially to those new Tory Red Wall seats that duty would not be hiked.

“The way forward out of this economic quagmire is to incentivise not punish the very people who are at the heart of any commercial recovery.

“The CEBR have predicted that a rise in fuel duty would generate extraordinarily little revenue, but most certainly would risk jobs, hike inflation, and stagnate business investment with the poorest, catastrophically hit hardest.”

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