Tory fury at Budget ‘fuel duty rise’ plan which would ‘flip a V-sign’ at voters

Tory MPs have voiced their fury at claims the Budget will finally raise fuel duty next week – saying it would "flash V-signs" to voters who switched from Labour to the Tories.

Campaigning MP Robert Halfon warned voters who "lent" their support to Boris Johnson in December could flip back to Labour in the "shortest political loan in history".

He tweeted: "The benefits of freezing fuel duty are clear.

"If the Government were to raise fuel duty, they would be flashing multiple V-Signs to voters up and down the country, millions of them, who as Boris Johnson said, lent us their vote. It could be the shortest political loan in history."

A second MP warned the policy could also cost traditional Tory voters in the south of England.

The MP blasted reports that taxes could rise in the Budget – including ending the nine-year freeze on fuel duty, which has deprived the Treasury of tens of billions to the benefit of motorists.

"The Conservative Party is coming to a crossroads," they told the Mirror. "Tory voters in our traditional seats in the South didn't vote for us to see their tax bills go up.

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"We can't just assume we're going to keep their support."

Treasury sources have refused to confirm or deny any details of the Budget.

However, multiple reports have emerged that new Chancellor Rishi Sunak could end the nine-year freeze on petrol taxes.

Despite a protest letter from more than a dozen new MPs, those reports are revived today in the Financial Times. The newspaper reports the Chancellor may end the freeze next week or at least foreshadow the end of the policy in future.

It comes as the government is trying to show its green credentials, and fuel duty freezes deprive the government of vast sums that could be spent.

The most recent year of the freeze alone – excluding the cost of all eight previous years – is costing the Treasury £4.4bn over five years.

New Chancellor Rishi Sunak prepares to deliver his first Budget on March 11 just weeks after his predecessor Sajid Javid quit in a row with No10.

Downing Street has since set up a joint team of economic advisors to work "without a cigarette paper" between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.

The Budget is expected to press ahead with infrastructure measures in the Tory manifesto, but hold back from other major changes in favour of "targeted" support for business or the NHS over Coronavirus.

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