Perennial rebel Tory MP Steve Baker is setting up a new Westminster campaign group to push Boris Johnson to adopt a low tax, small state position in the wake of a series of tax rises.
Baker, who has a history of running successful parliamentary rebellions against Tory Prime Ministers, is planning to run a campaign of backbench Tories to fight for lower taxes in the lead up to the next election.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak this year has announced future increases to National Insurance and Corporation Tax, which will increase the UK’s tax burden to its highest level since the 1960s, after the government spent record levels of sums during Covid.
Sunak vowed in last month’s Budget that he would slash taxes in the lead-up to the next election, which will happen no later than 2024.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Baker said: “I’m looking at a party which is going in the wrong direction and I’m looking at building an organisation that will provide a vehicle to unleash the potential of the United Kingdom and redefine a free market conservatism for the future.
“We have to rediscover the kind of conservatism that cuts taxes, not raises them. The public always want higher spending and lower taxes – the trick is to persuade them to pick one.”
Johnson is beginning to come under pressure from backbenchers in his own party after a series of gaffes and scandals over the past month.
This began with the government’s botched attempt to get ex-MP Owen Paterson off the hook for breaking parliamentary rules, which sparked a series of press stories about Tory MPs’ second jobs.
The Prime Minister was widely criticised by his party this week for a speech he gave to business chiefs at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in which he lost his place for 20 seconds, spoke at length about Peppa Pig World and compared himself to Moses.
The debacle led Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to ask Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs): “Is everything okay, Prime Minister?”