Tax hike will continue this year, PM says

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A planned £12bn increase in National Insurance from April will continue, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have said.

The Prime Minister is under pressure from some Tory MPs to drop or at least delay the National Insurance hike to win back support as he awaits findings from Whitehall and police inquiries into anti holiday claims -lockdown held in Downing Street.

But Mr Johnson, along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, has now made a firm commitment to push ahead with the 1.25 percentage point increase, designed to tackle the Covid-induced NHS backlog and reform social care.

write in the Sunday Timesthe couple insisted it was right to continue the “progressive” policy.

Read more: ‘There was no cake, drink or laughter at my dying wife’s birthday – not like Boris’ party at No 10′

“We need to clear the Covid backlog, with our health and social care plan – and now is the time to stick to that plan. We need to move forward with the health and care tax. It’s the right plan,” they said.

“It’s progressive, in the sense that the burden falls most on those who can most afford it.

“Every penny of this £39bn will go towards these crucial goals – including nine million more checks, scans and operations, and 50,000 more nurses, as well as strengthening social care.”

Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak said they were both ‘tax-cutting conservatives’ but there is ‘no magic money tree’.

“We believe passionately that people are the best judges of how to spend their own money,” they said.

“We want to get through this Covid-driven phase and continue with our agenda, which is to leverage our new post-Brexit freedoms to make the UK the business hub of Europe and the world.

“We want lighter, better and simpler regulation, especially in new technologies which the UK excels in. We are also Thatcherites, in the sense that we believe in sound money. ‘Magic Money Tree.’

In April, National Insurance is expected to increase by 1.25 percentage points for workers and employers.

From 2023, it should return to its current rate, with a 1.25% health and social tax applied afterwards to raise funds for the improvement of care services.

Political opposition to the change has come from all sides of the Commons as MPs fear the impact cost of living pressures could have on strained household budgets.

Inflation is at its highest level in 30 years after the coronavirus pandemic and the cap on energy prices is expected to be lifted in the spring, which could increase bills by 50%.

Inflation – the rate at which prices rise – is already at its highest level in 30 years, hitting 5.4% this month.

Senior Tory MP Robert Halfon has urged the government to ‘rethink’ the National Insurance hike to boost health funding.

The chairman of the Commons Education Committee told BBC Breakfast: ‘All I can do as an MP, a backbench MP, is just to urge the government to think again.

Despite confirming the tax hike, Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak described themselves to The Sunday Times as ‘tax-cutting Tories’ and ‘Thatcherites’.

They added: “We believe passionately that people are the best judges of how to spend their own money.

“We want to get through this Covid-driven phase and continue with our agenda, which is to leverage our new post-Brexit freedoms to make the UK the business hub of Europe and the world.

“We want lighter, better and simpler regulation, especially in new technologies where the UK excels. We are also Thatcherites, in the sense that we believe in sound money.

“There is no magic money tree.”

Speculation over who might stand to replace Mr Johnson if he is ousted continued on Saturday.

In the morning, Tom Tugendhat, a Conservative backbench MP who has criticized the government’s handling of the Afghanistan pullout, became the first to announce he intended to run for s there was a contest soon.

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) told Times Radio: “I think I’m saying pretty clearly that I think it’s up to all of us to put ourselves forward. And it’s up to the electorate, in the first case, the parliamentary colleagues, and in the second case the party, at your choice.

“I think it’s a position of absolute integrity to say that of course you should offer yourself to the electorate if you think you can. Of course you should talk to colleagues and see if you can. form a group, and if you can get a group together, you should go.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak or Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are widely believed to be the first to win the top job if the prime minister is impeached.

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