Rishi Sunak must sack ‘timid’ Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Tory MPs urge as they seek to avoid ‘annihilation’ at the next election
- 36 MPs and peers vowed not to back autumn statement if it contains tax rises
Tory MPs are urging Rishi Sunak to sack his ‘timid’ Chancellor in a bid to avoid ‘annihilation’ at the next general election.
After last week’s by-election defeats, backbenchers have warned the Prime Minister he must be ‘bold’ and significantly reshuffle his Cabinet to avoid electoral disaster.
Thirty-six MPs and peers have now vowed not to back Mr Hunt’s autumn statement if it contains tax rises. And privately, senior parliamentarians are calling for the Chancellor to be sacked and replaced with someone more radical.
They fear that the Government cannot afford ‘not to be bold’ after the dire results in Mid Beds and Tamworth.
The latest Westminster voting intention poll today by Savanta suggests Labour’s lead is growing – up one point to give Sir Keir Starmer’s party a 17-point lead.
After last week’s by-election defeats, backbenchers have warned the Prime Minister he must be ‘bold’ and significantly reshuffle his Cabinet to avoid electoral disaster
Thirty-six MPs and peers have now vowed not to back Mr Hunt’s autumn statement if it contains tax rises
One former Cabinet minister told the Mail that Mr Hunt was ‘certainly not being a Tory chancellor’ and called for someone who would not ‘just be guided by the civil servants’.
But they questioned whether Mr Sunak would replace him with someone more radical, or just make a ‘cosmetic’ change.
‘The policies being pursued by Rishi and his Chancellor are not the policies that are likely to win us a general election,’ they said. ‘He ought to move the Chancellor and have someone more fiscally Tory, but that would go against Rishi’s policies…
READ MORE: More than 40 Tory seats including those held by serving and former ministers at risk from election backlash by voters being stung by stealth income tax rises that will see millions more paying higher rates
‘If he were to be moved, the PM would only put in place somebody who is willing to do his bidding which would mean business as usual.’
The MP added: ‘Rishi is leading us to an election disaster. We’re not doing anything courageous. I’m supportive of the PM, but I despair that he is not taking any bold action to reinvigorate the electoral mood in favour of the Tories. Everything is bland.’
Another former Cabinet minister said: ‘There’s a great deal of dissatisfaction with Hunt – it’s perceived that he’s not standing up to the Treasury. The only problem is that a lot of colleagues feel that the Treasury is only reflecting the Prime Minister’s own position.
‘Clearly, a lot of colleagues don’t think that Hunt is the person who will deliver the growth agenda that we should be pursuing.’
They added: ‘The general feeling is that he is timid. Politically we need to pursue growth, and we also need to stop taking so much money out of people’s pockets.
‘There’s a view that’s prevalent among colleagues that he’s not the right person in that position.’
The calls come amid speculation of an imminent reshuffle, although many Westminster insiders have cast doubt on Mr Sunak changing his Chancellor before the autumn statement on November 22.
But the demands for tax cuts are growing, and now 36 MPs and peers have signed former Tory chairman Sir Jake Berry’s ‘tax pledge’ that they will not vote for or support ‘any new taxes that increase the overall tax burden’.
Mr Hunt and Mr Sunak have previously said they want to lower the personal tax burden, but have stressed the need to deal with high inflation and borrowing rates first
Mr Hunt and Mr Sunak have previously said they want to lower the personal tax burden, but have stressed the need to deal with high inflation and borrowing rates first.
Earlier yesterday, Treasury minister Victoria Atkins refused to be drawn on the potential for tax rises. Asked if she could say whether the tax burden could go up, she told Times Radio: ‘I understand why people are calling for lower taxes but it is important to explain why we have had to, for example, increase taxes on the most profitable largest businesses in the UK to try and help pay off some of that debt that we have on our government books at the moment.
‘And this is why reducing debt is the third of the Prime Minister’s priorities because just as inflation and interest rates have hit us all in our purses and our pockets, so too it has an impact on government.’
A No 10 source said: ‘This speculation is ridiculous. The PM and Chancellor are working together on the autumn statement and have a great professional relationship.’
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