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Cancel tax rise or be compared to Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson told, as David Davis adds voice to calls to scrap NI hike

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts a virtual press conference on January 4, 2022.

JACK HILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

  • Senior Tory MPs including David Davis have warned Boris Johnson to cancel a planned tax rise in April.
  • Davis said Johnson would be compared to Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing former Labour leader, if he failed to scrap the tax hike.
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak, a potential successor to Johnson, reportedly called it ‘the prime minister’s tax.’

Boris Johnson should scrap a planned tax hike in April or risk being compared to the left-wing former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a senior Conservative MP has warned.

David Davis, the former Brexit Secretary, has added his voice to a chorus of Conservative MPs telling the prime minister to scrap a planned National Insurance hike in April amid growing concern about rising inflation and soaring energy prices.

“At the last election, one of the things that came up on every doorstep I went to in all the northern seats around me was: ‘Jeremy Corbyn is going to put taxes up, therefore I’m going to vote for you,’ Davis told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday.

“Now what are we going to do? Put taxes up. What do you think is going to happen to those votes? They’re going to evaporate.”

Inflation hit a 30-year high of 5.6% in December as the price of food and petrol grew significantly, adding hundreds of pounds a year to household bills. Economists predicted that inflation would continue rising throughout 2022.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is widely tipped as Johnson’s most likely successor, has reportedly sought to distance himself from April’s tax rise, which he announced in September last year, in a move which could be linked with his leadership ambitions.

In a meeting with Conservative MPs last week, Sunak called it “the prime minister’s tax,” according to The Daily Telegraph.

One Tory MP who met with Sunak last week told the paper “we were left with the impression that he didn’t want to be associated with it,” the report said.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader and another of Johnson’s ministers, has also questioned the timing of the tax rise given inflation and soaring energy bills during a Cabinet meeting earlier in January.

Robert Jenrick, the former Housing Secretary who Johnson sacked in September, on Sunday called for the National Insurance hike to be postponed beyond April. He accused Downing Street of addressing the cost-of-living crisis “lamentably slowly.” 

Davis publicly told Johnson to resign over his handling of alleged parties held in Downing Street, but his opposition to tax rises points to a potentially longer-term problem for Johnson if he survives the current furore around the parties.

Conservative MPs told Insider that the cost-of-living crisis was a greater threat to the government than its current troubles ahead of the publication of a report into the parties by civil servant Sue Gray.

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