Majority of Welsh Tory MPs who voted for national insurance rise promised to cut or not raise taxes
The majority of Welsh MPs who voted to raise national insurance this week had previously promised not to raise taxes or even to cut them, research by Nation.Cymru has found.
Eleven Welsh MPs – all of them Conservative – supported the UK Government’s proposal to fund extra spending on the NHS and social care through a rise in national insurance.
At least six of them campaigned for low taxes at the last general election and more recently.
Wrexham MP Sarah Atherton voted for the rise despite leading the Centre for Welsh Studies’ recent “taxed enough Cymru” campaign.
“Hands off Welsh wallets,” she wrote on Twitter in October. “Welsh families are best placed to decide what to do with their hard-earned money.”
The website of Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie still includes a promise not to raise national insurance.
The “my plan” section of her official website states: “We promise not to raise the rates of income tax, National Insurance or VAT. This is a tax guarantee that will protect the incomes of hard-working families across the next Parliament.”
That had been a key part of the Conservative manifesto in the 2019 general election.
During the campaign, Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb said the “clear dividing line between Conservatives and Labour [is] over taxes on lowest paid”.
“Conservatives want working people to keep more of their pay packet,” he added. “Labour will be asking workers to pick up the bill for their socialist experiments,” he said.
But backing the social care levy during a debate at Westminster on Wednesday, Crabb said: “I think the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Health Secretary deserve enormous credit for coming together and working out a plan for this incredibly difficult problem, and I think people outside this place will recognise that.”
Stephen Crabb’s fellow former Wales Secretary Alun Cairns also spoke in favour of the proposal, suggesting “Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland will be net gainers out of the social care levy.”
That came despite the Vale of Glamorgan MP asking voters in 2019 to “vote Conservative on the 12th of December to deliver Brexit so that we can move on to your priorities, like the NHS, education, strengthening the economy and cutting taxes!”.
Following the Conservatives’ election victory, Cairns told constituents through his website that they could look forward to a “‘triple tax lock’ – meaning the rate of income tax, VAT or National Insurance will not be raised throughout the lifetime of the next Parliament.”
Fighting to become the MP for Aberconwy, Robin Millar also wrote that: “A vote for @WelshConserv is a vote for lower taxes for working people.”
Simon Baynes MP also highlighted the promise as part of his successful campaign to take Clwyd South from Labour, posting a graphic showing “a raft of measures to help hard working people” which was headlined by the triple lock.
A national insurance rise of 1.25% will mean that anyone earning just £20,000-a-year will pay £130 extra in tax a year while anyone earning £30,000 will pay £255 a year extra.
Labour said the Conservatives have “broken their promise to working people.”
Cardiff Central MP and shadow cabinet member Jo Stevens said: “2.5 million working families now face a double whammy: a national insurance tax rise and a £1,000 a year #UniversalCredit cut.
“The Conservative Government’s unfair tax rise on working people won’t even fix social care or clear the NHS backlog.”
Plaid Cymru MP Ben Lake said: “This is a deeply unfair and regressive method of raising funds, disproportionately impacting young people, businesses and those on the lowest income. In effect, the Prime Minister is pinching pounds from Welsh families who can least afford it, while protecting higher earners and the wealthy.”