Dominic Raab grilled on tax policy by BBC Radio 4 host
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Mr Raab encouraged support for the Prime Minister despite many Conservative MPs still calling for Mr Johnson’s resignation. The Prime Minister managed to survive a vote of no confidence by 59 percent yesterday, as a number of Tory MPs handed in letters of no-confidence to the 1922 Committee. But his bid to defend Mr Johnson was met with a challenge as BBC Radio host Nick Robinson questioned whether he would change his stance on the Prime Minister resigning as he put the frontbencher on the spot over his party’s leading policies.
Mr Robinson brought up the newly implemented windfall tax and National Insurance price hike.
Mr Robinson said: “What you’re saying to the public and what you’re saying to your MPs to try and get them to back Boris Johnson is we’re a tax-cutting conservative party.
“I put it to you very very gently, you are not a tax-cutting conservative party and for the reasons, you spelt out there maybe jolly good reasons not to be.”
Mr Rabb said: “Let me forcefully try and…”
Mr Robinson: “Why are you saying that you are?”
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The deputy Prime Minister said: “Because I’m trying to make a point, and if I could just complete the picture and I’ll do it very swiftly.
“First of all the emergency we dealt with that emergency in a way which I think a lot of people give the government credit for, and you think 40million jobs, that is no small thing.
“We avoided the economic and social skying that would otherwise accrue, we kept those businesses alive, we kept those jobs.
“The reality is you could transition out of the emergency, of course, we want to be talking about physical financial responsibility and getting the tax burden down. But particularly with the cost of living challenge, so the national insurance tax cut in July is a critical first step.
“But we’re a government that will deal with both of those things, the emergency as usual and then the pressures on ordinary families.”
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Mr Robinson said: “Would you be prepared to say to your boss the Prime Minister, not now perhaps but if you think the circumstances change, I’m sorry boss you’ve got to go?”
Mr Rabb insisted: “Look I will always put first and foremost the good of the country, first and I have resigned from cabinet previously when I thought that was at stake.
“I do not think that is the issue now I think passionately and unflinchingly that what we need to do is get back on the front foot and the way you do that is the positive agenda and support for the Prime Minister, because precisely… Tobias knows.”
The BBC presenter added: “Are you confident by the way, are you confident that Boris Johson puts the party, puts the country more importantly, before his own interests?”
Mr Rabb said: “Look for all the criticism that he gets I don’t know anyone as passionate and as patriotic about this country as the Prime Minister.
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“We won the biggest vote share since 1979 in 2019 and I’m very confident if we focus on this positive agenda we can do even better next time.”
Despite Mr Rabb’s support of the Prime Minister, some other Conservative MPs do not share the same sentiment.
Julian Lewis, chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament said Mr Johnson has an “aversion to scrutiny, bordering on contempt for the Commons.”
Mr Lewis added: “The Prime Minister’s record since 2019 has been a mixture of achievements and misadventures.
“His difficulties derive largely from a belief that he and favoured friends can disregard rules, which others must follow. This weakens trust in the integrity of Parliament.
“He has an aversion to scrutiny bordering on contempt for the Commons. Impropriety at the top of government is impossible to defend, especially when it is habitual.”
One of the most vocal politicians calling for Mr Johnson to resign as Prime Minister is Westminister SNP Leader, Ian Blackford, who has been pushing for him to quit since the Partygate scandal broke.
Mr Blackford said: “He can try and argue, as he has done, that he’s won the vote, but this is a moral defeat for the Prime Minister.
“You’ve got the situation that all the opposition parties and now 140 Tory MPs want this Prime Minister gone, he’s not going to be able to run away from this.”
Mr Blackford added: “Whether he goes today or whether it’s some months down the line this is a dead man walking, this is a man that will pay a price for his behaviour.”
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