Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Tories brace for more tax rises to fund NHS

Any Tory rebellion on social care is unlikely to be very big this evening when the Commons votes on a resolution introducing it. There are a number of reasons for this, not least that voting against a money resolution, particularly one on an issue that is as big as a budget, is a much bigger deal than rebelling on normal legislation. Then there’s the prospect of a reshuffle, with everyone in Westminster busily trying to read runes about whether Boris Johnson will move around his front bench tomorrow. If it doesn’t happen, disappointed MPs are hardly going to complain in public that they’d supported the policy in the hope of career glory.

If the NHS won’t willingly stop spending money, and the new care policy requires that money after three years, what’s going to happen?

Ministers have also been keen to tell would-be rebels that this vote isn’t the end of the matter and that they are open to improving the policy. This has moved some over from saying publicly that they would oppose, to conceding that it is better to abstain on the vote tonight and then work with the government. Marcus Fysh is one such, telling me:

‘I can’t possibly support it as set out and will be abstaining. I’m not voting against because I want to see if we can work constructively with the government to get the policy and legislation in relation to it fixed. Ministers have said they are open to working on ways to improve this and over the coming weeks and months we are going to be trying to get the policy into a better place.’

One senior Tory also remarks that ‘Boris was disarming in admitting he was breaking a commitment and if the alternative is borrowing, that’s even worse’.

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