Boris and Rishi likened to THELMA AND LOUISE over NI rise

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are likened to THELMA AND LOUISE ‘driving off the cliff’ with National Insurance rise for millions as former Tory minister tells them to ‘do something’ to help families hit by cost of living spike

  • Ministers were likened to the tragic female road movie characters by Labour
  • Pat McFadden accused the PM of brining in rise to set up tax cut before election
  • They were also told to ‘do something’ about energy bills by ex-Tory minister 

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak were accused of acting like Thelma and Louise preparing to ‘drive off the cliff’ today as they faced pressure to axe a massive National Insurance rise for workers.

The Prime Minister and Chancellor were likened to the tragic female road movie characters – who drove fatally into the Grand Canyon to avoid police – as ministers faced demands for a U-turn.

Labour’s Pat McFadden, who made the remark, accused the PM of bringing in the increase to allow him to cynically cut taxes before the next election.

At the same session in the Commons, the Government was told to  ‘do something’ about increased energy costs, a Conservative former minister has urged. 

At Treasury questions, former work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb highlighted the predicted cost of living crisis facing families in the spring when the NI hike comes in at the same time as gas costs amid rising inflation.

The 1.25 percentage point National Insurance increase is expected to raise £12 billion a year for health and social care services, but breaks Boris Johnson’s 2019 election manifesto commitment not to raise taxes. 

Mr McFadden, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, told MPs: ‘On Sunday, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor nailed themselves to the mast of the National Insurance rise coming in this April. Like Thelma and Louise, they held hands and they are going to drive off the cliff.

The Prime Minister and Chancellor were likened to the tragic female road movie characters – who drive fatally into the Grand Canyon to avoid police – as ministers faced demands for a U-turn.

The 1.25 percentage point National Insurance increase is expected to raise £12 billion a year for health and social care services, but breaks Boris Johnson’s 2019 election manifesto commitment not to raise taxes.

Mr Sunak insisted there are a range of measures the Government has put in place to help people with the cost of living

‘Now, he says this is all about public services. But we know that the real reason that he is so desperate to stick to this timetable is so that he can implement planned tax cuts before the next election.

‘So, I ask him, why should the cost-of-living crisis be made much worse for families this year just to fit in with the Tory Party’s planning grid for the next election?’

Mr Sunak insisted there are a range of measures the Government has put in place to help people with the cost of living, saying: ‘Not least the national living wage going up £1,000 a year, the cut to the Universal Credit taper rate, the freezing of fuel duty and so on.’

In regards to funding the NHS, the Chancellor said it is the ‘people’s number one priority’ and it can ‘only be done with a sustainable funding stream’.

But Mr Sunak came under attack from Mr Crabb, who said: ‘He (Rishi Sunak) has always shown a powerful instinct for protecting those on the very lowest incomes, but can I say respectfully to the Chancellor that we are going to have to do something around energy costs.

‘On Friday I met with a couple in my constituency who showed me their fixed tariff agreement for energy coming to an end and a new one that is coming on stream is more than double.

‘They are going to really struggle this year paying their energy costs. Can I ask him to look at this? The warm homes discount isn’t perfect but it is a useful vehicle for doing something helpful.’ 

Mr Sunak replied: ‘I can tell him that I am of course aware of people’s anxieties about what is coming and he can rest assured that we will continue to look at all the policies we have in place to make sure that we are supporting people in the best way possible through the months ahead.’

Pat McFadden, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, told MPs: ‘On Sunday, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor nailed themselves to the mast of the National Insurance rise coming in this April. Like Thelma and Louise, they held hands and they are going to drive off the cliff’

Later a Treasury minister claimed there is ‘no other responsible way’ to pay for NHS improvements than a National Insurance hike.

Simon Clarke defended the hit to people’s pay packets from April, amid a cost-of-living crisis, when pressed by DUP MP Sammy Wilson to help families by dropping the tax increase and ‘many of the green levies’.

Mr Clarke replied in the Commons: ‘There is no other responsible way for us to finance the nine million more checks and scans and operations that the health and social care levy is going to unlock than if we do it through a broad-based tax increase, which is highly designed to make sure we protect vulnerable families.

‘The six million lowest-paid will pay no extra tax at all as a result of the levy.

‘When it comes to the green levies it’s worth noting we’ve reduced our reliance on natural gas as a country by 26 per cent since 2010 – that is saving taxpayers now in an era of ultra high gas prices. It’s also worth noting that clean technologies are now the cheapest form of new energy to procure, cheaper than new gas.’ 

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