Rishi Sunak’s relationship with Boris Johnson has “completely disintegrated” to the point that the Chancellor “considered quitting” over a row over a planned increase in National Insurance contributions, an MP has claimed.
Mr Sunak reportedly made the comments to a Tory MP as Boris Johnson considered scrapping the planned 1.25 percentage point rise amid calls to quit over Partygate.
The Tory MP told the Telegraph: ‘Their relationship had completely disintegrated’. [Mr Sunak] said he was considering resigning.
However, a Treasury source told the newspaper that any suggestion Mr Sunak was considering his future as chancellor was “not true”. MailOnline has approached the Treasury for comment.
It comes after a Cabinet split opened up over tax hikes as the Conservatives gathered in Blackpool for their Spring Conference yesterday.
Rishi Sunak’s relationship with Boris Johnson ‘completely disintegrated’ to the point that the Chancellor ‘considered quitting’ over a row over planned National Insurance contribution hike, MP says
Mr Johnson reportedly considered scrapping the National Insurance hike earlier this year to stop Tory MPs sending no-confidence letters to his leadership amid ongoing Downing Street party reports.
Eventually he faced growing opposition to the 1.25 percentage point tax hike by insisting, alongside Mr Sunak, that it was the “right plan” and that he would continue in April.
In a joint article, MM. Johnson and Sunak said, “We need to move forward with the health and social care tax.”
The National Insurance hike is expected to be announced in the spring statement next Wednesday before taking effect next month.
Some Tory MPs are still calling for it to be scrapped to ease the effects of the cost of living crisis, but Numbers 10 and 11 said the hike was written into law and it was too late to change it.
Yesterday Mr Sunak doubled down on his decision to increase National Insurance, stressing that even Margaret Thatcher needed to raise taxes.
But Jacob Rees-Mogg distanced himself from the question – saying the ‘abnormally high’ tax rate had been a decision of the Chancellor. And it came as Tory Party co-chair Oliver Dowden said April’s tax rates must be the ‘high point’.
National Insurance for Workers and Employers will rise by 1.25 percentage points in April to raise £12billion for health care and social services.
This will worsen the cost of living crisis as Britons also face higher inflation, energy bills and council tax.
Addressing delegates at the spring conference yesterday, Mr Sunak said: ‘I didn’t go into politics to have to raise people’s taxes. I am a Conservative Chancellor.
“But I also take seriously my responsibility to you, our children and the finances of the nation, making sure we get the issues resolved. And with the coronavirus, our borrowing has reached levels we haven’t seen since World War II.
“And our debt was to continue to grow and grow in the future. I didn’t think it was morally right. I didn’t think it was economically responsible.
The Chancellor added: “As far as people forget, Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson must have done similar things at the start of [their] period.
“They inherited this huge deficit, which they had to tackle first and Margaret Thatcher was adamant, as was Nigel Lawson, that you had to tackle the deficit first and once you got it have done, then you can start reducing taxes.
“So that’s what I had to do and it wasn’t easy – but I think it was the right thing to do. But it’s done, we’ve made the tough decisions we need to make.
Boris Johnson reportedly considered scrapping the National Insurance hike earlier this year to stop Tory MPs sending no-confidence letters to his leadership amid ongoing party reports in Downing Street.
He said: ‘My priority going forward is to cut taxes. I have been very clear. But I want to do it responsibly and sustainably. I now believe that we are on the right track to achieve this.
But at a side event at the conference, Brexit Opportunities Minister Rees-Mogg struck a different tone. “Taxes are at an abnormally high level,” he said.
“The Conservatives need to be a tax cut government again.
“We need supply-side reform and government efficiency to ensure growth and pay for the tax cuts. But raising National Insurance is a matter for the Chancellor.
Meanwhile, Mr Dowden said the April increases were to be the “high point”.
“As we no longer have to do things like lateral flow tests and all these other things that cost a lot of money, we have to make sure that this is the absolute peak of public spending,” he said. -he adds.
Mr Sunak also hinted there could be help for struggling families in his spring statement next Wednesday.