Cabinet Split Erupts Over Plan To Slash Tariffs To Cut Food Prices

International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said she was against the move, which is backed by Boris Johnson.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan said tariffs account for just 0.4% on the cost of living.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan said tariffs account for just 0.4% on the cost of living.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A Cabinet split over plans to slash tariffs to cut food prices and ease the cost of living crisis has erupted after a senior minister confirmed she was against the move.

Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg are reported to be in favour of the proposal, which emerged during a cabinet meeting where ministers were told to come up with their own ideas to help struggling families.

It would see import tariffs on some foods, such as rice, slashed as a way to cut food bills and help families make ends meet.

But appearing before a committee of MPs today, international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan dismissed the idea, insisting it would make little difference to prices in the shops.

She said: "All of us across every department are very focused on thinking about exactly how the tools that we have within our own departments, the interfaces with our constituents, where we can find ways to reduce costs.

“In terms of tariffs, it’s a tiny, tiny proportion — 0.4 per cent — on the cost of living. That isn’t really where the key areas are.

“The important things that the DIT [Department for International Trade] is doing in terms of building out with FTAs [free trade agreements] and bringing new markets with more choice for consumers — that is where DIT has real value in helping bring down the cost of the shopping basket or whatever other aspects of our consumer spending.”

With local council elections just around the corner, the government is under pressure to tackle the rising cost of living which will feature heavily in the May 5 poll.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps is understood to have suggested changing MOT checks for drivers from once every year to once every two years in a bid to save people money.

Meanwhile, reducing the cost of childcare by increasing the number of children a nursey staff member can look after was also propos by education secretary Nadhim Zahawi.

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