Josh Buckland on Boris Johnson's future with tax and energy hikes
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Ex-Downing Street adviser Josh Buckland has told LBC that Boris Johnson faces his “most critical tests” in the coming months as the Government is looking to get to grips with the rising cost of living. LBC host Nick Ferrari discussed how damaging the double hit from rising taxes and energy prices would have on the Conservative Government at the next election. The warning comes as Mr Johnson continues to face pressure over sleaze claims and Covid restrictions.
Asked how a large a problem raising National Insurance would be, Mr Buckland told LBC: “I think it’s a problem and adds at a similar time where all the costs are going to come through in April, including for significant pressure on households.
“The challenge with the insurance rise is clearly the OM has put in a good big priority on something public services properly and clearly any delays that increase means the money have to find for somewhere else which puts further pressure on the fiscal position.
He added: “We’ve basically been a pretty turbulent couple of months but I think it’s safe to say this could be the biggest test of the PM’s political future.
“Elections are so often won or lost or economic issues and the cost of living is the issue that hits home most.
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“I think there is still time and clearly there is a little bit of time before April to take action,” he added.
“But this could be the most critical test and this could be an issue that obviously emboldens the Labour Party at the next election.
“So whilst I still put the Conservatives as favourites for the next election, this could be the issue that shifts things.”
It comes as Rishi Sunak was challenged to produce “more constructive ways” to help Britons slapped with a hefty rise in energy costs.
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The Chancellor was put on the spot on Sky News to support moves such as slashing VAT on fuel to help ease the increased cost of warming homes this winter.
Mr Sunak told Sky News: “Of course, we have a range of different ways to help people with energy bills.
“I’m always listening and I want to make sure that the policies we’ve got in place to help people as we have done and our track record, I think shows that we’re always there to support people over the last year or two.”
He was challenged by a Sky News reporter who said: “The Treasury is reluctant to release funds to help people out.
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“Could more not be done, cutting VAT on fuel, things like that? Surely there are more constructive ways that we could help people more directly.”
Mr Sunak replied: “Of course, I understand people’s anxiety and concern about energy bills in particular – that’s why we’ve put in place a series of ways to help people with energy bills. We announced half a billion pounds towards the end of last year to help millions of families – £100-150 to help them get through the winter.
“We’ve got something called the warm homes discount, which discounts energy bills by £140, we’ve got something called the warm homes for pensioners, we have got the cold weather payments as well, winter fuel discounts, hundreds of pounds worth of help.
“So there is support there for people but of course, we’re always listening, making sure the policy we’ve got will support people in the way we want it to, and that’s what our track record over the last year or two shows.”
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