Finally they discover spending cuts they don't support
Tory MPs have today launched their own anti-austerity campaign, after George Osborne warned Brexit would create a £30 billion ‘black hole’ that would need to be covered by spending cuts and tax rises.
The chancellor said the move would be necessary as part of an emergency budget straight after a Leave vote. But 57 MPs have written to the chancellor saying his position would be ‘untenable’.
Osborne announced the ‘Brexit Budget’ in a joint statement with former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling, with both warning of income tax rises and further public sector retrenchment.
Writing in the Times today, the pair said:
‘Far from freeing up money to spend on public services as the leave campaign would like you to believe, quitting the EU would mean less money. Billions less.
It’s a lose-lose situation for British families and we shouldn’t risk it.’
They claimed that the higher rate of income tax could rise by 3p, while inheritance tax could go up by 5p and another 5 per cent would be added to alcohol and fuel duties.
However, that only covers half the £30 billion deficit, meaning the rest would have to come from pensions, policing, transport and local government.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Tory rebel Mark Drakeford said:
‘This is a scary story [and] a campaign tactic based on fear.’
He described it as a ‘punishment budget perpetrated on the poor and the sick…He would not be able to pass it’.
Many listeners were no doubt checking it wasn’t a clip of a Labour MP responding one of Osborne’s budgets in recent years.
Responding to the claim that this opposition would be a vote of no confidence in Osborne, Drakeford said: ‘If this budget comes forward, we will oppose it.’ He added:
‘Colleagues met this proposal with derision and contempt.
This is a campaign tactic to get him through the week – they have nothing positive to say about the EU.’
It comes as Vote Leave today said they would have a free trade deal with the EU by 2020 – four years away.
Today’s open Tory revolt risks unseating Osborne before he’s even got round to starting a post-Brexit budget.
Either way, it’s nice to see Tory MPs campaigning against austerity. One can only ask…Where have they been for the past six years?
Josiah Mortimer is a regular contributor to Left Foot Forward. You can follow him on Twitter@josiahmortimer
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