Boris Johnson's £12billion tax raid clears key Commons hurdle

Boris Johnson’s £12billion health and social care tax raid clears key House of Commons hurdle despite furious Tory backlash as Conservative MPs warn the party must not become ‘Labour-lite’

  • Boris Johnson’s Health and Social Care Levy has cleared a key Commons hurdle
  • The legislation bringing in the tax hike was given a second reading by 317 to 256
  • The PM suffered a mini-Tory rebellion as six Conservative MPs voted against it
  • NI increase was voted through in principle last week with just five Tory rebels 
  • Came after Keir Starmer accused PM of imposing a ‘tax on working families’  

Boris Johnson’s £12billion tax raid to fund the NHS and improve social care has cleared a major hurdle in the House of Commons despite fierce Tory resistance. 

The Prime Minister’s Health and Social Care Levy was backed by 317 votes to 256, a majority of 61, as MPs supported the draft legislation which will enact the National Insurance hike. 

Some six Tory MPs voted against the legislation as it was given its second reading – the first main stage new laws must navigate. 

The legislation is being crashed through the Commons in a single day, with more  votes taking place this evening, before it will then go to the House of Lords for further scrutiny. 

The new levy was backed despite significant Tory disquiet, with Conservative MPs warning that raising taxes is ‘not what Conservatives do’.

They also urged Mr Johnson not to turn the Tories into ‘Labour-lite’ as they argued after the coronavirus pandemic ‘we need to work our way out of this mess, not tax our way out’. 

The six Conservative MPs who rebelled against the Government at second reading were: John Baron, Sir Christopher Chope, Philip Davies, Dehenna Davison, Ben Everitt and Esther McVey.

A further 41 Conservative MPs did not record a vote, although this does not automatically mean they abstained – with some likely to have been given permission to miss the vote.   

The NI increase was voted through in principle last week with just five Tory MPs rebelling – although dozens opted to abstain. 

Boris Johnson’s £12billion tax raid to fund the NHS and improve social care has cleared a major hurdle in the House of Commons despite fierce Tory resistance

The Prime Minister’s Health and Social Care Levy was backed by 317 votes to 256, a majority of 61, as MPs supported the draft legislation which will enact the National Insurance hike

The votes in the Commons came after Sir Keir Starmer laid into Mr Johnson over his ‘tax on working families’.

The Labour leader stepped up his attack on the huge National Insurance hike amid anxiety among Conservatives that the policy will be a ‘gift’ in Red Wall seats.     

The tax burden is set to reach its highest level since the Second World War as the government scrambles to raise revenue to clear backlogs after the coronavirus crisis, and finally fix the crippled social care system.  

Many Tories fear the cash injection will be simply swallowed up by the NHS without reforms, and even more funding will then be demanded.     

There is little sign of a wide-scale Tory revolt against the legislation today, with the NI increase already having been passed in principle. 

Backbencher Marcus Fysh has tabled an amendment that he said is intended to encourage insurance schemes that could cover some care costs. The PM has committed to capping lifetime care costs for every individual at £86,000. 

‘This is to enable Ministers to use it in whole or part to incentivise or part fund innovative savings or liability risk sharing schemes that can provide for the future including by way of using the power of compound interest / investment return,’ Mr Fysh tweeted.

In a speech to the TUC conference, being held virtually, Sir Keir acknowledged the ‘uncomfortable truth’ that Mr Johnson has a huge majority in Parliament. 

But he did not give any more details of how else Labour would choose to fund the £12billion-a-year package announced last week by the Government.

In an address that drew heavily on his personal experience as the son of a toolmaker, Sir Keir said his father worked from 8am to 5pm, came home for tea and then went back to work from 6pm until 10pm ‘to provide for our family’.

‘The starting point is a job to raise a family on,’ he said. ‘That means a real living wage’.

He restated Labour’s commitment to increase the minimum wage to £10 an hour.

Sir Keir added: ‘A job you can raise a family on must offer a solid foundation on which you can build your life, not worrying about how many hours you’ll be given the next week or how you’ll pay the bills if you fall ill.

‘Labour’s new deal will provide that security by ensuring basic rights for all workers from day one in the job: including holiday pay; protection from unfair dismissal; and guaranteed sick pay.

‘We have one of the lowest rates of sick pay in Europe. That’s not good enough, so as well as guaranteeing sick pay, Labour’s new deal will increase it as well.’

There were no details of the rate Sir Keir would like to see sick pay increase to, with Labour saying the party would ‘consult widely’ on the appropriate level.

In a speech to the TUC, Keir Starmer stepped up his attack on the huge national insurance hike amid anxiety among Conservatives that the policy will be a ‘gift’ in Red Wall seats

Labour would ban zero hours contracts and increase access to parental leave.

It would also outlaw ‘fire and hire’ – the practice of sacking employees and then taking them back on worse terms.

Labour morale has been boosted by a YouGov poll earlier this month which showed the party with a lead over the Tories for the first time since January, but Sir Keir still faces a tricky conference with unrest on the party’s left over his direction.

Sir Keir emphasised the need for Labour to be in power in order to achieve his aims.

‘The uncomfortable truth is that until we have a Labour government, our demands for change will be frustrated,’ he said.

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