It’s not just Tory critics having a field day over accusations Philip Hammond broke a manifesto pledge by hiking taxes for the self-employed - even traditionally Conservative-supporting newspapers have joined in the condemnation.
The Chancellor received a pasting on the front page of almost every publication on Thursday over his Budget announcement.
The Sun branded Hammond the “spite van man” for his “raid on the self-employed”, while the Daily Mail gave his joke bonanza short shrift, declaring the Budget “no laughing matter”.
In his first Budget since taking over as Chancellor last July, Hammond announced National Insurance contributions for the self-employed would go up by 2% by April 2019.
The move breaks a Tory election pledge to not raise National Insurance contributions, something they previously warned would “cost jobs and hit hardworking taxpayers”.
It is set to raise £2billion for the Treasury.
Unfortunately for the Conservatives, the internet remembered the scores of warnings from 2015 about how Labour would do exactly the same thing if they were elected.
Tweets from the likes of David Cameron and George Osborne resurfaced on Wednesday, with many pointing out how Wednesday’s Budget totally contradicted Torpromises not to raise National Insurance.
On Thursday morning, Hammond defended the move.
He said it was a “basic question of fairness” as only the richest people would be paying any more.“I’ve had to ask the self-employed to pay a little bit more National Insurance in order to make a fair contribution for the services that they receive from Government,” he said.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Hammond said he needed to raise more money to ensure the UK was “match fit for Brexit”.
“The decision to leave the EU has changed the game and Britain needs to prepare for the opportunities an the challenges,” he said.
In an interview with Good Morning Britain, he admitted his discomfort at increasing tax but refused to rule out future increase.
He said: “No Chancellor is ever prepared to rule out the possibility of future tax increases. But look, I’m a Conservative, no Conservative likes to increase tax but we also have to pay for our public services and we have to invest in Britain’s future.”