Boris Johnson is reportedly considering a U-turn on plans to raise national insurance as the wait goes on for the publication of Sue Gray’s inquiry into partygate allegations.
The prime minister is facing pressure from some Tory MPs to scrap the controversial tax hike in order to win back support to save his job.
The Times cited a government source saying Mr Johnson was considering delaying the proposed 1.25% rise for a year as “red meat” for his right-wing critics.
“He’s wobbling, I think he would do anything to survive,” they reportedly said.
Another source is said to have told the paper: “It looks like [Johnson] is back-sliding because of the pressure he’s under on partygate.
“It has never been popular among the right of the party and it’s that group Boris is most worried about. The Treasury view is that Johnson should hold his nerve.”
Treasury alarmed at U-turn possibility
The Guardian reported that the Treasury was becoming increasingly alarmed the prime minister might be preparing to scrap the tax hike to save his job.
On Thursday, Mr Johnson said the tax rise was “absolutely vital” as “every penny will go towards fixing the COVID backlogs and also social care”.
Measures to tackle cost of living crisis delayed
Meanwhile, The i reports that measures to tackle the cost of living crisis are being delayed because of the ongoing political turmoil surrounding allegations of parties in Downing Street.
The paper said Treasury sources have said talks on how to ease the crisis have lagged behind schedule because of questions over Mr Johnson’s leadership.
PM seeks distance from airlift intervention claims
It comes after Mr Johnson sought to distance himself from other damaging claims that he personally intervened in the airlift of animals out of Afghanistan as thousands of people tried to flee the Taliban.
He said the allegations were “total rhubarb”, despite more leaked emails undermining the government’s account of what happened.
Public awaits publication of Sue Gray report
All the while, the wait for the findings of the inquiry into alleged lockdown-breaking parties in No 10 and Whitehall continues for another day.
Ms Gray’s document has yet to be submitted to No 10 as it is being scrutinised by legal and HR officials.
The PM has insisted he is not delaying the release of the report, and vowed to release it in full.
The process has been complicated by the announcement of a Scotland Yard investigation into some alleged parties, based in part on the evidence gathered by Ms Gray’s inquiry.