Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Top Tory in challenge on austerity

Liam Fox 'believes that in leaving money in people's pockets, economic activity will follow'

Senior Conservative Liam Fox is expected to bring Tory austerity divisions to the fore with a direct call for the Chancellor to drop protected spending for schools, aid and the NHS.

The former defence secretary will also urge a wholesale rethink of earnings and savings taxation, including a capital gains tax holiday, to breathe life into the ailing economy, according to The Times.

His intervention, which comes less than a fortnight before George Osborne's Budget, echoes concerns raised by many of the party's backbenchers over the way funding has been ring-fenced for three Whitehall departments while others, like the Ministry of Defence, have been hit hard.

According to The Times, Dr Fox will say: "I believe that in leaving money in people's pockets, economic activity will follow. People will buy houses, invest for their future or just go shopping. Whichever is the case, it's creating a society that it sustainable for the future in the way that our current - welfare dependent and debt-ridden - economy is not.

"We should gradually move towards the reduction - or even abolition - of the taxes where the state not only taxes the same money on multiple occasions but discourages the very behaviour that would lead to a more responsible society."

It comes after a weekend of dire poll ratings for the party and increasing pressure on David Cameron's leadership.

Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston warned the Prime Minister he was "running out of time" to tackle problems with his "posh" top team. In a series of tweets she wrote: "Inner circle still look far too posh, male & white & Cameron is running out of time to fix it.

"I consider myself a Cameron loyalist; he is the best person for the job but should listen to critical friends. I am a Cameron loyalist but he needs to change his inner circle which just seems to be telling him what he wants to hear."

Home Secretary Theresa May fuelled speculation that she harbours future leadership ambitions after giving a detailed speech that roved across a number of government briefs and included plenty of proposals to appeal to the right of the party.

Baroness Warsi said the Prime Minister commands the support of "large parts" of his party and insisted she, and Mrs May, had "full confidence" in his leadership. "He is doing a very difficult job in very difficult circumstances and he commands the support of large parts of his party," the Foreign Office Minister told Sky News.

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