Boris Johnson warned of National Insurance 'gamble' by MP
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The sudden decline in support comes shortly after the announcement of the highly controversial 1.25 percentage point increase on National Insurance tax, a policy that has been lambasted for putting the burden of paying for the pandemic on ordinary workers rather than society’s wealthiest. Prime Minister Boris Johnson broke one of his six 2019 election “guarantees” to raise National Insurance payments by 1.256 percentage points starting in April 2022.
As a result, support for the Tories is down five points to 33 percent, with Labour in the lead at 35 percent.
Last week the Tory lead over Labour was four points on 38 percent.
The policy, which many are predicting could be disastrous for the Tories, has undermined the party’s reputation for favouring small Government and low taxation.
The tax has been raised to pay for the NHS backlog caused by the pandemic, as well as longstanding issues with the social care system.
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The increased levy is set to raise an extra £12 billion per year for the Treasury.
Mr Johnson still defended the rise in the House of Commons.
He said: “Of course, no Conservative Government ever wants to raise taxes.
“And I will be honest with the House: I accept that this breaks a manifesto commitment, which is not something I do lightly.
“But a global pandemic was in no one’s manifesto. I think that the people of this country understand that in their bones and can see the enormous steps this Government and the Treasury have taken.”
Six in ten of those surveyed did not believe Mr Johnson’s party cared about low taxation, compared with two in ten who thought they did.
Shockingly, just under a quarter of all Conservative backers believe the party still supports low tax rates.
Anthony Wells, political research director at YouGov, said: “We should be cautious of leaping to too many conclusions from a single poll but.
“It looks as if the Government may have sacrificed their reputation for low taxes amongst Tory voters without actually getting much credit for helping the NHS.”
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The survey is likely to alarm MPs before the Tory party conference next month, as well as increase disdain for the Prime Minister amongst those who initially refused to back him.
A number of Tory MPs defied the Prime Minister in the Commons vote – but disagreement was rife among some cabinet ministers and a large chunk of MPs in the run-up to the vote.
There is also rumblings emerging in local party politics, with a number of figures worried about the overall tarnish the tax hike is painting the party with.
Sir Michael Bunbury, local party president in the Suffolk Coastal constituency of Theresa Coffey, said: “A Conservative government raising taxes is very, very hard to take.
“A lot of my generation felt that the country was liberated post-1979 from its destination to go down the plughole.
“I am greatly saddened that some of that liberation, characterised by Mrs Thatcher, is being rolled back by a Conservative Prime Minister.”
The result is also likely to cause concern in Number 10, which conducted extensive polling prior to making the decision.
Before now, according to the polls the Tories have enjoyed the backing of over 40 percent of the electorate, celebrating leads of as much as 18 percent as recently as May this year.
The success of the coronavirus vaccine rollout pushed support for the Prime Minister’s Government, as well as a perceived lack of opposition from Labour.
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