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Lord Frost – a key ally of Boris Johnson – delivered a stark warning to ministers at a dinner hosted by the Centre for Policy Studies last night: slash taxes or Brexit will be doomed. Frost’s warning is an interesting one, since the Brexit minister is said to be close to the PM and they are said to share a similar outlook of the benefits the UK could gain from leaving the EU. Indeed, Frost added in his speech that cutting the UK loose from the EU’s rules was one of the reasons he negotiated what has been called a ‘hardish’ Brexit, because he and the PM wanted Britain to gain maximum freedom.
Rather than lower taxes, the UK now has the highest rates for decades. Under Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the tax burden has been hiked to its highest level since the war and reports of a rift between Number 10 and Number 11 have been brewing during the pandemic.
Following the PM’s embarrassing performance at the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) yesterday, a “Number 10 source” told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg there is “a lot of concern” about his direction. Interestingly, the standfirst on the BBC website was later changed to a “senior Downing Street source”. The Hound wonders whether the finger was being pointed from inside the Treasury.
It is not just his neighbour’s unrest that Boris is having to contain. Eighteen Conservative rebels voted against his controversial amendment to the health and social care bill, with 68 members absent – a palpable challenge to Johnson’s premiership.
In the space of a few months, Boris has managed to make many enemies on a host of issues. Libertarian-minded Tories abhor his high-tax, high-spend agenda. The ‘Red Wall’ intakes want more substance on “levelling-up”. MPs worried about his cull on members having consultancy roles may also have something to say to the PM over the coming months.
The biggest danger to Boris Johnson comes not from the opposition, but from the enemies within.