Suffolk: MP threatens to derail budget if the Chancellor goes ahead with planned 3p tax hike on fuel
A TORY Suffolk MP is warning the Government that he and his allies could derail George Osborne’s next budget if the chancellor fails to act against rising fuel duty.
Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley made the threat as ministers managed to avoid a defeat over the issue in the House of Commons last night.
But Mr Ruffley said the support of Conservative MPs from rural areas like Suffolk, where fuel duty hits families and business particularly hard, would wane if Mr Osborne did not bow to calls to freeze the duty until 2015.
He was joined by Waveney MP Peter Aldous who also said he would not rule out rebelling against the Government if it failed to act on fuel duty.
Mr Ruffley told the East Anglian Daily Times: “Rural areas feel the fuel duty burden particularly harshly and that’s why people in shire counties like Suffolk feel strongly about this.
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“It’s an especially pertinent issue for them, because there a car is not a luxury, it is a necessity.”
Fuel duty is set to rise 3p in January. Yesterday Labour asked the Commons to vote on its plan to freeze the levy at its current level until April.
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In part shadow chancellor Ed Balls made the move in the hope Conservative MPs concerned about the pending rise would back Labour in a vote, inflicting an embarrassing defeat on the Government.
Speaking before the Commons debate Mr Balls said: “[If I were a Tory MP] I would want to make a clear statement to my constituents; [the rise] is the wrong thing to do and I am going to vote with Labour.”
But Tory MPs, including Mr Ruffley and Mr Aldous, held off voting against the Government after Mr Osborne promised to deal with fuel duty in his autumn statement on December 5.
Mr Ruffley added that having backed the Government in yesterday’s vote, he and his colleagues would not hesitate to punish ministers if they now failed to adequately act in the autumn statement.
In particular he said he wanted Mr Osborne to freeze fuel duty not only until April, but until the next election.
He added: “I give this assurance; if [Mr Osborne] doesn’t come up with a pledge to freeze it until the end of the parliament then we will certainly be raising the question of a rebellion at the time of next March’s budget.
“The problem will not go away for George Osborne and every rural MP in the country will make sure it is dealt with.”
After Mr Osborne was widely accused of having presided over a shambolic budget earlier this year, Mr Ruffley’s threat will raise the daunting spectre of more chaos next year.
Meanwhile Mr Aldous said: “If there is nothing in the autumn statement, and they decide to go ahead with the rise then I will be looking very carefully at their reasons for doing so.”
Asked if he would rebel if the chancellor failed to act in December, he said: “I would not rule anything out. This is something that I’m very conscious hits my constituents very hard.”
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