Rishi Sunak fires back at National Insurance fury – Tories face crisis as anger grows

Boris Johnson defends National Insurance levy in Parliament

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The Chancellor defended yesterday’s decision to scrap the 2019 manifesto pledge not to raise the levy. From April next year all Britons earning more than £9,000 a year will be forced to pay an extra 1.25 percent in tax to fund health and social care.

With Conservative MPs nervous about betraying their promise to voters at the last election, Boris Johnson is holding a snap Commons vote on the new policy later today.

He’s hoping to push the plan through Parliament with as small a rebellion as possible before backbenchers have the chance to fully assess public reaction.

After announcing the proposals to fix the social care system and overcome the NHS backlog yesterday, the Prime Minister held a press conference to sell the policy to Britons.

Ahead of tonight’s vote, Mr Sunak has also sought to justify the tax hike.

“We can’t spend money we don’t have, and this will come at a cost,” he said as he defended the Government for looking to tackle the social care problem.

“We’ve spent over £400billion on support for jobs and livelihoods, businesses and public services since the start of the pandemic.

“I’ve insisted on being straight about the challenges facing our public finances.

“And because of this decision to permanently increase health and social care funding, and dramatically expand the social care safety net, we must credibly explain how it will be paid for.

“Not just for this year or next, but for the next decade and beyond.”

Writing in The Times, he added: “We have made the tough but responsible choice to raise taxes.

“And the only way to raise such significant sums is from income tax, VAT or national insurance contributions (NICs).

“We believe NICs is the fairest and most progressive approach.”

Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies indicates Britons are now being taxed more than at any point since World War Two.

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A Tory backbench rebellion over the manifesto breach failed to materialise yesterday, but the Government remains concerned opposition could grow if public anger at the policy grows.

Polling last night indicated narrow support for the policy.

A YouGov survey of 1,869 British adults found 44 percent tended to support the proposals compared to 43 percent who don’t.

As many as 13 percent said they did not know how they felt about the plan, leaving significant room for opposition to grow.

Pollster Chris Curtis from Opinium has warned since Monday, public anger has been growing.

He told BBC Newsnight: “At the start of this week, what we were seeing was overwhelming support for this idea of increasing national insurance in order to put more money into the NHS and social care.

“Now, the polling [yesterday] as that’s hit reality, maybe that has shifted a little bit and the policy isn’t as popular now as it would have been in the abstract a few days ago.”

MPs will vote on the national insurance hike at 7pm tonight.

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