3 min read
Boris Johnson will get his social care plan through the Commons, allies believe, despite deep concerns from his own backbench over the manifesto-breaking National Insurance increase that will pay for it.
Leader of the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, confirmed a vote will be held tomorrow, which could be an attempt to thwart a coordinated Tory backbench rebellion after several influential MPs raised concerns about breaking their 2019 manifesto commitment not to raise tax.
Whips are understood to be confident they can get the social care financing reform through the Commons with a strong whipping operation tested during the vote to cut international aid – another manifesto breaking policy.
One Conservative source told PoliticsHome: “Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak can get this through because the case for fixing the public finances and this being a once in a century scenario is quite strong.
“There will be opposition but there’s always a very good whipping operation as we saw with the foreign aid vote. It’s been tested and it’s been done before.”
They suggested that while influential backbenchers have voiced concerns already, including former minister and chair of the Northern Research Group of Tories, Jake Berry, and former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, they don’t believe they have the numbers to vote down the proposal, even if a formal group of rebels formed.
“I can entirely see why they would be concerned but it’s a numbers game as well as a rhetoric game,” they said.
A senior Tory who had been concerned by the plans said: “The levy is not as blunt as first suggested and if you vote against it, where does that leave social care?”
The looming threat of a reshuffle is also expected to keep ministers on-side and Cabinet agreed to back the plans following an hour long meeting this morning.
In July, Tory whips were involved in a furious whipping operation to try and get rebels over the line on the cut to foreign aid from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5% to cope with the spiralling cost of coronavirus on the economy.
The Tories managed to get the cut through with a majority of 35, with 25 Conservatives voting against – lower than had been expected.
On the National Insruance rise to pay for social care, one Tory MP said: “If [Boris Johnson] is doing this with a vote, then he’ll do it quickly, and I think he’ll win.”
The Times reported earlier this week that the PM was in “invincible mode” over the proposals, confident that he can push the policy through, despite a backlash from his own party.
Berry, the MP for Rossendale & Darwen, told PoliticsHome that he would prefer to see a windfall tax on tech giants and online e-commerce firms like Amazon to raise money to pay for social care. Former secretary of state and Tory party leader, Duncan Smith, said the priority has to be the social care provision, not the funding model.
He told LBC that social technology could keep people in their homes longer and the government should be discussing how to create a better system rather than discussing how to pay for it.
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