A Labour MP branded Rishi Sunak “Mr Tax” today amid continued criticism over his mini-budget.
Jonathan Ashworth accused the chancellor of “acting in his own interest” rather than those of Britons.
The shadow pensions secretary warned that pensioners were “cutting back on hot meals” and “forgoing hot showers” as they cannot afford the cost.
While the chancellor is unlikely to be worried about criticism from Labour MPs, he received another set of negative headlines from usually supportive press.
The Express headline blared: “Solve Cost Of Living Crisis Or You’ll Lose Election.”
Their front page was accompanied by a poll that found 63 per cent of people do not think Sunak had done enough and 67 per cent were struggling to pay for heating and energy.
The paper even suggested that the cost of living crisis could lose the Conservatives the next election.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported that Sunak was now “friendless in cabinet” and was considering another new council tax rebate following the backlash.
Ashworth told Sophy Ridge On Sunday on Sky News the chancellor was “playing games” and added: “He was acting in his own interest because he thinks by offering an income tax cut in two years that’ll help him politically with Conservative MPs if there’s a leadership contest or that’ll fit the Tory election grid.”
Ashworth repeated Labour’s policy that Sunak should have imposed a “windfall tax” on the profits of oil and gas companies to generate funds to help struggling families and pensioners with energy bills.
He added: “Instead, he’s imposed these very punishing tax rises, these very severe real-terms cuts to the pension and support like universal credit, and he’s expecting people to be grateful because two years down the road he’s saying there’s going to be an income tax cut even though that income tax cut nowhere near offsets the 15 tax rises that he has imposed on the British people, £3,000 extra per household if you do a rough and ready calculation.
“He is a tax-rising Chancellor, he is Mr Tax and it’s the British people who are paying the price.”
Treasury minister Simon Clarke told MPs high inflation “will be reflected” in the benefits uprating figures for April 2023, which will be calculated in September, if the current forecasts come to fruition.
But Ashworth suggested the government should have brought forward some of the increases rather than wait until 2023.
Meanwhile, education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said it would be irresponsible to say “job done” by Sunak over the cost of living crisis.
He added: “I think he will continue to keep an eye on this, it’s only right.
“It’s irresponsible for me to say ‘job done’ because energy prices are volatile, inflation remains high, so it would be absolutely irresponsible to say ‘job done’.
“But I think £22 billion, in one year, of help when you’ve just spent £400 billion is the right thing to do.”