Keir Starmer cheered as he arrives in Mid Bedfordshire
Rishi Sunak is facing a new challenge to his authority as Prime Minister in the wake of two by-election defeats in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth last week.
Former party chairman Sir Jake Berry, who Mr Sunak sacked a year ago when he replaced Liz Truss, has issued a call to angry MPs to sign a tax pledge to oppose Mr Sunak and his Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s tax rises.
The pledge was unveiled during the party conference earlier this month to oppose any new tax increases and has already been signed by 33 Conservative MPs including Liz Truss, former Home Secretary Dame Priti Patel and former Business Secretary Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Now, with Conservative MPs terrified they are facing a record defeat in a general election next year, Sir Jake has written in the Conservative Post urging more disgruntled colleagues to sign the pledge and force a change of direction from the Prime Minister.
It comes on the same day as Mr Sunak is bracing for another major rebellion over rent controls later today.
READ MORE: Sunak dealt devastating poll blow with Tories facing crushing election defeat
In his piece Sir Jake warned that the Conservatives have failed to live up to their identity as “the party of low tax”.
He wrote: “People want low taxes, and polling shows that, right now, it’s Labour, not the Conservatives that the public believes will lower their taxes.
“You don’t have to look at polling to understand that, after 13 years of Conservative Government, there is a little too much month and not enough paycheck to cover it.
“We call ourselves the party of low tax, however after 13 years, we are the Government of the highest taxes in history.”
Referring to the Whitehall machine as “the Blob”, he warned that the party had been captured by “blobonomics” of spending more and more on the Government.
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Sir Jake used the one by-election success under Rishi Sunak’s leadership ahead of marking his first year in charge tomorrow.
The victory in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election was “the ULEZ by-election” according to the former cabinet minister but he said colleagues were wrong to think it was an objection to net zero policies.
He said: “People hate ULEZ, not because they dislike the idea of Net Zero (which on the whole polls positively), but because they don’t want to pay another tax. At its most simple, ULEZ is a new tax on drivers.
“Sadiq Khan’s implementation of ULEZ meant there was a clear dividing line between the Conservatives and Labour. That dividing line is tax, not the environment.
“As Conservatives we believe in personal responsibility and freedom of the individual.”
Sir Jake added: “I’m a Conservative because I want to improve the status quo and not accept a managed decline of Britain and her people. Positive change happens through disruption and growth. “This can only be delivered by lowering taxes and reducing the burden of the state. In short, by our Government and our Party pursuing Conservative policies.”
His pressing party members to urge their MPs to join the 36 who have already signed the tax pledge.
It comes ahead of the Budget next month and with suggestions that letters may be going in from MPs asking for a leadership vote.
Mr Sunak and Mr Hunt have insisted that the “best tax rise is cutting inflation”.
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