Ed Davey presses Boris Johnson on Carer's Allowance
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to increase National Insurance in a bid to overhaul social care and give more money to the NHS was met with a mixed response earlier this week. Many Conservative MPs voiced their anger at the move, which they said would disproportionally impact the working class when it comes into force next year. Now 42 Tory MPs have failed to back the PM when it came to voting on the tax hike in the Commons on Wednesday night.
Before the vote, Mr Johnson had attempted to sway those frustrated by the move, which by some had been dubbed “damaging” and “non-Conservative”.
As well as the National Insurance hike, there was anger at a scheme to place a lifetime cap of £86,000 on social care costs in England.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson tried to squash fears around the cap suggesting the insurance industry could protect people from having to sell their homes to pay for the cost of care.
In the Commons debate, Jake Berry, leader of the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs, warned by listing the levy on people’s payslips as a health and social care charge, it would “never go down, it can only go up”.
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He said: “No party is ever going to stand at an election and say I’ve got a good idea, vote for me, I’ll cut the NHS tax.
“It is fundamentally un-Conservative and in the long term it will massively damage the prospects of our party because we will never outbid the Labour Party in the arms race of an NHS tax.”
While the vote came out in favour of the hike 319 to 248, 42 Tory MPs did not back the Prime Minister.
Sir Christopher Chope, Esther McVey, Philip Davies, John Redwood and Dr Neil Hudson voted against their party leader.
Another five, Jake Berry, Steve Baker, Dehenna Davison, Richard Drax and Sir Roger Gale said they were deliberately abstaining.
Of the 248 who moved against the tax, 175 were Labour, 40 were SNP, 11 were Liberal Democrat and five were Conservative.
In total 37 Conservative MPs did not record a vote.
However, this doesn’t mean they all abstained. Some of those may have been given permission by whips to skip voting.
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The 37 Conservative MPs who abstained from voting were
- Lee Anderson (Conservative – Ashfield)
- Stuart Anderson (Conservative – Wolverhampton South West)
- Steve Baker (Conservative – Wycombe)
- John Baron (Conservative – Basildon and Billericay)
- Jake Berry (Conservative – Rossendale and Darwen)
- Peter Bone (Conservative – Wellingborough)
- Peter Bottomley (Conservative – Worthing West)
- Andrew Bridgen (Conservative – North West Leicestershire)
- William Cash (Conservative – Stone)
- Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Conservative – The Cotswolds)
- David Davis (Conservative – Haltemprice and Howden)
- Dehenna Davison (Conservative – Bishop Auckland)
- Richard Drax (Conservative – South Dorset)
- Philip Dunne (Conservative – Ludlow)
- Luke Evans (Conservative – Bosworth)
- Marcus Fysh (Conservative – Yeovil)
- Roger Gale (Conservative – North Thanet)
- Richard Graham (Conservative – Gloucester)
- Adam Holloway (Conservative – Gravesham)
- Julian Knight (Conservative – Solihull)
- Greg Knight (Conservative – East Yorkshire)
- Kwasi Kwarteng (Conservative – Spelthorne)
- Ian Liddell-Grainger (Conservative – Bridgwater and West Somerset)
- Tim Loughton (Conservative – East Worthing and Shoreham)
- Craig Mackinlay (Conservative – South Thanet)
- Stephen McPartland (Conservative – Stevenage)
- Johnny Mercer (Conservative – Plymouth, Moor View)
- Anne Marie Morris (Conservative – Newton Abbot)
- Matthew Offord (Conservative – Hendon)
- Andrew Percy (Conservative – Brigg and Goole)
- Mark Pritchard (Conservative – The Wrekin)
- Andrew Rosindell (Conservative – Romford)
- Henry Smith (Conservative – Crawley)
- John Stevenson (Conservative – Carlisle)
- Julian Sturdy (Conservative – York Outer)
- Tom Tugendhat (Conservative – Tonbridge and Malling)
- Charles Walker (Conservative – Broxbourne)
Mr Johnson faces an uphill battle in the Commons, as the result announced in the chamber shows the Government’s working majority of more than 80 was reduced to 71.
So does this mean the Tories are losing confidence in Mr Johnson?
Breaking a manifesto promise by increasing National Insurance has definitely not gone down well in the Tory ranks.
Mr Baker, a former minister who abstained from the vote said the party was facing a “generational crisis”.
He said this was due to the Conservatives inability to fund promises dating back more than a century.
Mr Baker said: “Now the Conservative Party, at some stage in our lifetimes, is going to have to rediscover what it stands for because I have to say at the moment we keep doing things we hate because we feel we must.”
And it seemed Mr Johnson was still trying to reassure his party in private.
One MP told the Financial Times the PM: “Kept stressing we are the party of free enterprise and low taxes.”
The plan to increase National Insurance aims to give NHS England £25bn over the next three years while social care will receive £5.4bn.
Another £5bn will go towards healthcare in devolved nations.
A further challenge comes when Chancellor Rishi Sunak gives his Autumn Budget, slated for October 27.
Already Mr Sunak has tried to assuage Tory MPs his budget will just be “technical” and won’t include any more tax increases.
The Budget will also include the 2021 Spending Review conclusions, asking departments to identify “at least five percent of savings and efficiencies from their day-to-day budgets”.
Mr Sunak said the review would keep finances on “a sustainable path”.
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