Zahawi’s comments come despite Downing Street’s reluctance to discuss tax cuts, following market reaction to Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget tax cut.
When asked about the possibility of tax cuts before Election Day, a spokesperson for Number 10 said this week: “I’m not going to comment on an election debate…we’ve laid out the plan, which is a credible plan and just to restore economic stability.”
But in his interview with The Telegraph, the Conservative president, who will be responsible for the upcoming general election campaign, said there was “not a rolling paper difference” between ministers who “take the collective responsibility that we do want to impose on the burdens fiscal”.
It comes as:
– Middle-class voters face increased pressure in the new year as the government scrutinizes “social tariff” plans, which would see vulnerable households’ energy bills subsidized through levies on bills paid by the most affluent.
– The Treasury is also considering extending support to low-income homeowners with high mortgage costs, which will make the loans available to Universal Credit applicants after three months of hardship, instead of nine.
– Patrick Minford, a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, has likened Hunt’s tax foray to a “wrecking ball” that will plunge Britain into a prolonged economic recession.
– Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary, said Labor was capitalizing on renewed interest from donors and the business community.
‘Our voters feel we have abandoned them’
In the aftermath of the Autumn Declaration, three Conservative MPs told The Telegraph they had visited voters’ associations and received hostility from members over tax increases.
“I had an association dinner the day after Kwasi and Liz’s mini-budget – everyone was bursting with enthusiasm, they were excited again, they could see Conservative politics coming to the top and they were cheering,” said one MP. By contrast, the atmosphere at a dinner party that followed Mr Hunt’s statement was “incredibly subdued”, they said.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary, said: “The Conservative members are uneasy, I think it’s fair to say. They are loyal but irritable.
“They want to support Rishi [Sunak] and they want it to do well, but they are worried about where we are in the economy.”
Sir Bill Cash, the veteran Tory MP, said there was a “feeling of bewilderment for some people to see things being put forward that are not at all economically or politically conservative.”
Another senior Conservative MP said party supporters were “furious” over the statement, describing it as “madhouse economics”.
“Our voters feel that we have frankly abandoned them and that we have become more Labor than Labour,” they said.