Prior to his Budget in six weeks, chancellor Jeremy Hunt has been the target of a double attack from Tory MPs on tax cuts and fuel duty.
The Tory backbench 1922 Committee faced the chancellor on the same day as a bleak economic outlook increased pressure on him to cut taxes.
Veteran Thatcherite ex-minister Sir Edward Leigh led the charge for tax cuts, telling Mr. Hunt that the rising cost of living was depressing voters.
IMF has warned that the UK economy will perform worse than any other in the developed world, but No. 10 insists it is strong.
Sir Edward, a prominent proponent of Brexit who was fired by Sir John Major in 1993 because he opposed the Maastricht Treaty, urged the chancellor to lower corporation tax, income tax, and fuel charge.
After the meeting, he stated: “You cannot wait till the general election. People are depressed. Give them hope, you must.
“We took the correct decisions in September, so that has given me room in this budget to decrease taxes, whether they be corporate, personal, or gasoline,” said Hunt.
A key advocate on the subject and Red Wall MP Jonathan Gullis immediately questioned the chancellor about fuel duty during the meeting since there were concerns about a budget increase of 12p per litre on March 15.
He said: “We’ll have to examine how the public finances are at the moment.”
Other in attendance MPs also left the meeting disturbed that Mr. Hunt did not completely rule out a raise.
Staunch backbencher David Simmonds said: “Everyone thinks that controlling inflation should be the first priority in the short term and that once inflation is in check, tax cuts should resume.
He also discussed the significant drop in business rates that will take effect in April and how it will affect small enterprises.
When asked about the meeting’s atmosphere, Mr. Simmonds responded: “In fact, it was really encouraging. Although there is a fair window of opportunity to get it right, people are taking the challenge of inflation extremely seriously. People notice that.”
Only a few hours prior to Mr. Hunt’s testimony before the committee, the International Monetary Fund had released a harsh report that attributed the UK economy’s weakness to increased taxes and interest rates.
However, some of the Tory MPs in attendance at the 80-minute discussion expressed astonishment that none there urged for an increase in defence spending in the chancellor’s Budget.
This week, it was made public that a US general claimed that due to defence budget cuts, the UK was no longer a top-tier fighting force. Defence secretary Ben Wallace also acknowledged that the Tories had “hollowed out” the armed forces.