Footage has emerged that appears to show David Cameron condemning the Government’s tax hike on self-employed people as “stupid”.
The video shows the former prime minister talking to fellow guests at a memorial service for British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. He appears to say that “breaking a manifesto promise” is “stupid”.
It comes as Theresa May faces a backlash from many of her own MPs after the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, used his first Budget to announce plans to raise National Insurance Contributions (NICs) on people who are registered as self-employed.
Tory rebels say up to 100 of the party’s MPs are prepared to either abstain or vote against the proposals when they are put before the House of Commons later this year.
The Prime Minister also faced accusations her Government was breaking a key manifesto pledge. The 2015 Conservative manifestos said the Tories “commit to no increases in VAT, Income Tax or National Insurance”.
Speaking after a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday, Ms May insisted the changes did not constitute a broken promise. She pointed to legislation, announced after the 2015 election, that made clear only employed, and not self-employed, workers would be protected.
“The legislation was clear that it was honouring our manifesto commitment in our 2015 manifesto, and no amendments or concerns were raised at the time,” she said.
However, Labour attacked the proposals, saying they were “a total U-turn” on the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge.
“By hiking National Insurance Contributions on the self-employed, the Tories have walloped low and middle earners to the tune of £2 billion”, said Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour’s Campaign and Elections Chair.
“Meanwhile, those at the top get tax breaks. It’s not just unfair, it’s a broken promise: a total U-turn on their General Election pledge.”
Announcing the changes, Mr Hammond said reforms were needed to make the tax system fairer and reduce the difference in National Insurance payments between employed and self-employed people.
“The differences in National Insurance contributions is no longer justified by the differences in benefit entitlements”, Mr Hammond said.
“Such dramatically different treatment of two people earning essentially the same undermines the fairness of our tax system. Employed and self-employed alike use our public services in the same way but they are not paying for them in the same way.”
The current system is “not fair” on the 85 per cent of people who are employed, he added.