25/11/2013 10:01 GMT | Updated 25/11/2013 10:07 GMT

George Osborne's Payday Loan Cap Previously Opposed By Tories... And George Osborne

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne leaves 10 Downing Street in London, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

George Osborne has surprised critics by unveiling plans to cap the total cost of payday loans to save vulnerable consumers from the 'legal extortion' of paying huge fees.

The Chancellor's conversion to the cause of capping the cost of payday loans would come as an extra surprise, after refusing to back such moves over the last three years.

A mooted cap on payday loans was defeated last May by 266 votes to 225, while a poll found that less than half (46%) of Tory MPs backed such a move. Only three Tory MPs, Zac Goldsmith, Mark Reckless and Philip Hollobone backed the proposal.

But Osborne insisted: "I don't accept it's a departure from any philosophy. The philosophy is we want markets that work for people, and people who believe in the free market, like myself, want that free market to be properly regulated."


As unsurprising as Osborne may want you to think his support for capping payday loans is, HuffPostUK has found he wasn't always so happy about the idea.

LibDem business minister Jo Swinson warned in September that such a move could result in "unintended consequences", forcing customers to turn to "unsavoury alternatives" for credit. Meanwhile business secretary Vince Cable warned today that the move risked "letting the 'baseball bat brigade' into this industry".

However, it wasn't just the LibDems who were sceptical about the idea, as many of Osborne's Tory colleagues were scathing about the "distracting" payday loan cap that will "not work".