More than 40 Tory seats at risk from a stealth tax election backlash
More than 40 Tory seats including those held by serving and former ministers at risk from election backlash by voters being stung by stealth income tax rises that will see millions more paying higher rates
More than 40 Tory seats, including those held by senior serving and former ministers, are at risk from a voter backlash against stealth tax rises at the next election.
Constituencies currently held by former deputy PM Dominic Raab, ex-party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith and serving Cabinet ministers Alex Chalk and Alun Cairns are among those which could be lost in a backlash by those dragged into higher rate bands.
The seats, which span England, Scotland and Wales, had Conservative majorities over Labour and the Liberal Democrats in 2019 that are lower than the number of voters dragged into paying the higher 40p or 45p rates of income tax since that election.
Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are facing mounting pressure to cut taxes before the next election a mind growing fears of a Tory wipeout, with calls also for Mr Hunt to be replaced by a bolder Chancellor.
A poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies last night saw Labour extending its lead over the Tories by four points to 18 points, after winning two shock by-election victories last week in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire.
Income Tax thresholds were frozen by Mr Sunak when he was chancellor, and critics argue that coupled with painfully high inflation they are quietly dragging millions of people into paying higher rates without any change to the system.
The Liberal Democrats, who compiled the analysis of seats potentially at risk, cited HMRC figures showing there are 5.6 million higher rate income tax payers in 2023-24, up 46 per cent since 2019-20. It is targeting Tory seats in the affluent ‘Blue Wall’ in the south.
The party’s Treasury spokeswoman Sarah Olney MP said: ‘We’ve spoken to countless former lifelong Conservative voters who are furious about facing endless unfair tax hikes under Rishi Sunak’s government. Ordinary families are being asked to pay the price for years of Conservative chaos and failure and won’t put up with it any longer.
Constituencies currently held by former deputy PM Dominic Raab (left) and serving Cabinet minister Alex Chalk (right) are among those which could be lost in a backlash by those dragged into higher rate bands. Mr Raab is standing down at the next election.
The seats of Sir Iain Duncan Smith (left) and Sir Alok Sharma (right) are also at risk. Sir Alok is standing down at the next election.
Lib Dem Treasury spokeswoman Sarah Olney MP said: ‘We’ve spoken to countless former lifelong Conservative voters who are furious about facing endless unfair tax hikes under Rishi Sunak’s government.’
‘It just shows the Conservative Party has turned its back on their former heartlands in Middle England. Conservative MPs risk being swept away at the next election because they’ve voted through tax rise after tax rise for their constituents.’
Other former ministers and high-profile seats at risk include the Moray seat of Scottish Tory leader Douglass Ross and, Transport Minister Richard Holden’s North West Durham seat and the Reading West constituency held by Sir Alok Sharma, who was business secretary and then president of the Cop26 environmental summit.
Theresa Villiers, a former Northern Ireland and environment secretary, Stephen Hammond, the former health minister and Steve Brine, the former chairman of the health select committee, could also all see their seats taken by Labour or the Lib Dems.
However there are several curveballs which could come into play. Many MPs whose seats are at risk are standing down at the next election, including Mr Raab, Mr Ross and Sir Alok.
Additionally, widespread changes to constituency sizes and boundaries will also affect the result. Mr Holden’s seat, for example, is being folded into neighbouring seats and will cease to exist at the next election.
Tory calls have been mounting for Jeremy Hunt to ease the pressure on struggling families by cutting taxes – as the burden heads for the highest level since the Second World War.
Which Tory seats are at risk from stealth tax backlash?
Here are 41 seats which voted Tory in 219 where the party’s majority is lower than the number of voters being dragged into high rate income tax bands
Cities Of London and Westminster
Esher and Walton
Altrincham and Sale West
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine
Hitchin and Harpenden
Banff and Buchan
Vale Of Glamorgan
Chingford and Woodford Green
Carshalton and Wallington
Heywood and Middleton
Bolton North East
North West Durham
Wolverhampton South West
Sir Graham Brady*
Sir Alok Sharma*
Sir Ian Duncan Smith
*Standing down at the next election
**No longer a Tory MP – Christian Wakeford joined Labour, Rob Roberts is an independent
Brits are facing fresh warnings about the ‘softening’ jobs market today after figures showed employment flatlining.
The proportion in work was 75.7 per cent in the three months to August, unchanged from the quarter to July. Unemployment also held steady at 4.2 per cent.
But concerns have been raised about the wider picture as the economy stalls, with pay growth easing back and vacancies dipping.
The latest ‘experimental’ labour market figures had been delayed by a week due to issues gathering data.
The ONS said it has used other sources to produce estimates, but urged caution in interpreting them.
The proportion in work was 75.7 per cent in the three months to August, unchanged from the quarter to July. Unemployment also held steady at 4.2 per cent
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Mel Stride said: ‘There are more than one million more people on company payrolls compared to 2019, a near record high, and today’s statistics also show inactivity has fallen by over a quarter of a million since the pandemic peak.
‘Growing the economy is our priority. That’s why we are bearing down on inflation and bringing in the next generation of welfare reforms to drive down inactivity and help more people into work.’
Stephen Evans, chief executive at Learning and Work Institute, said: ‘The new estimates should be treated with caution but add to the picture from other data of a softening labour market, with vacancies dipping below one million for the first time since 2021.
Jon Fitzmaurice of the Work Foundation highlighted ‘a falling demand for workers which is likely to dampen pay growth in the coming months’.
Jane Gratton, Deputy Director Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce said: ‘It’s disappointing to see the number of economically inactive again ticking up, reversing recent trends. Employers need substantial flows of people back into job seeking and employment.’
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