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Downing Street suggested the National Insurance hike will not be delayed after a cabinet minister allegedly called for it to be shelved.
Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg told cabinet that the rise should be ditched as inflation and energy bills rise, in comments leaked to the press.
The prime minister was apparently urged to scrap the £12 billion a year increase amid concerns for those struggling with the cost of living.
However, Downing Street insisted today there were “no plans” to delay the 1.25 per cent rise in April.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “There are no plans to do that, no.
“The cabinet collectively agree with that approach and recognise the priority of the public in ensuring our NHS has the funding it needs to tackle the backlog, which has been exacerbated by Covid.”
Rees-Mogg apparently said the government should sack civil servants to save money and “questioned the productivity” of those working from home, The Times reported.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak reportedly defended the levy and the mitigations put in place to help those facing extra costs – citing the universal credit taper cut and a £500million household support fund.
In the Commons today, Rees-Mogg swerved Labour questions about whether he called for the hike to be scrapped.
Shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said: “Perhaps he turns out to be more socialist than he has hitherto let on. Given that, according to the Financial Times, he is now asking his own government to scrap the National Insurance tax rise, something we have been calling for since it was announced.
“I wonder – is he about to cross the floor? There is space.”
The senior Tory replied: “She thinks that I may be converted to her way of thinking. I think this is wishful thinking, it has to be said, because as her question went on and on it became clearer and clearer that not only is she now referring to taxpayers’ money – a good Tory principle, we always call it taxpayers’ money because we recognise there is no money from anywhere else – but also she is becoming Eurosceptic.
“She has become a staunch Brexiteer because the only way our socialist friends can advocate cutting VAT on fuel is by having left the European Union. If we were still in the megalithic state that she used to so campaign for...we would not be able to cut VAT on fuel.”
Earlier this morning transport secretary Grant Shapps suggested they would stick to the rise.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve made our decisions. We have a collective responsibility.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.