Conservative MPs who vote against UK government's tax cuts will lose whip

Some Tories are preparing to side with Labour to prevent measures in Chancellor’s mini-budget

Conservative Party chairman Jake Berry outside Downing Street. Reuters
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Conservative MPs who vote against the UK government's plan for tax cuts will lose the whip, the party chairman has said.

Some Tory MPs are reportedly preparing to side with Labour to prevent measures announced in the Chancellor’s mini-budget on September 23, including scrapping the top rate of income tax.

Asked on Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday whether this would result in them losing the party whip, Conservative chairman Jake Berry said: “Yes.”

He also urged Tory MPs to unite behind prime minister Liz Truss and her programme, saying she had “a mandate both from colleagues and our membership”.

He said: “I'm sure that if we do that it will lead ultimately to long-term electoral success.”

Ms Truss spoke about the plans during the traditional morning-of-Conservative party conference BBC interview on Sunday.

She insisted again the government made the “right decision” to borrow more this winter to cap the energy price people pay. But she said government could have “laid the ground better” ahead of its mini-budget.

“I do stand by the package we announced and I stand by the fact we announced it quickly, because we had to act,” she told Laura Kuenssberg.

“But I do accept we should have laid the ground better … I have learnt from that and I will make sure that in future we do a better job of laying the ground.”

She said she will press ahead with plans to scrap the 45p top rate of tax, saying it would make the system simple and lower and does not raise much in revenue.

Ms Truss also refused to give any guarantees on public spending during the interview.

“I can't exactly set out what is going to be in this plan,” she said. “What I can promise is we're going to reduce debt as a proportion of GDP.”

Conservative MP Michael Gove appeared on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg on the first day of the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. Getty

Fellow guest Michael Gove, a Tory MP who backed former chancellor Rishi Sunak in the leadership race, hinted, but would not confirm, he could vote against the plans, saying he “did not believe” they were right.

“The energy package was the most important thing in the fiscal event,” he said.

“But broadly 35 per cent of the additional money we are borrowing is not to cut energy costs. It is for unfunded tax cuts.”

He said he was “profoundly concerned” by that.

“There are two major things that are problematic with the fiscal event,” he said. “The first is the sheer risk of using borrowed money to fund tax cuts. That is not conservative.

“And then the second thing is the decision to cut the 45p rate and at the same time to change the law which governs how bankers are paid in the City of London.

“Ultimately at a time when people are suffering … when you have additional billions of pounds in play, to have as your principle decision, the headline tax move, cutting tax for the wealthiest, that is a display of the wrong values.”

Julian Smith, a Tory former chief whip, has suggested he will vote against the proposals when Parliament returns, regardless of the consequences.

Mr Smith, the MP for Skipton and Ripon, tweeted: “The first job of an MP is to act in the interest of their constituents and in the national interest.

“We cannot clap for carers one month and cut tax for millionaires months later.”

Ms Truss faces Tory MPs at the Conservative Party conference this week, giving her the opportunity to reverse the turbulence unleashed by the tax cut plans.

On Wednesday, exactly four weeks since she stood in Parliament basking in the support of her own MPs at her first Prime Minister’s Questions, she will deliver the keynote Conservative Party conference speech.

Updated: October 02, 2022, 11:03 AM
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