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Poll shows Tories plunging to lowest support since 1978 amid backlash at Budget plan to ‘fund 2p national insurance cut by milking non-doms, smokers and business fliers’ – with Chancellor and PM still dashing to finalise crucial pre-election package

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A shock poll showed Tory support plunging to a 46-year low today amid signs Jeremy Hunt will fund a 2p cut to national insurance with hikes to other taxes in the Budget.

The unwanted landmark was hit in Ipsos research as the Chancellor and Rishi Sunak race to finalise the crucial pre-election fiscal package, due to be unveiled on Wednesday.

Mr Hunt looks set to try to appease demands to ease the burden on Brits by knocking 2p off national insurance. 

But the OBR watchdog’s grim outlook on the finances means the cost of around £10billion will need to be at least partly offset by increases elsewhere.  

Curbing tax breaks for wealthy non-doms – those who declare their main home is abroad for tax purposes – appears to be on the table, despite Mr Hunt having criticised similar Labour plans. 

Another £500million will be raised by imposing a levy on vapes and pumping up tobacco duties.

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Higher air passenger duty on business flights, extending the windfall tax on oil and gas firms, and a raid on second home owners who let their properties are also being mooted.

Trimming planned public-sector growth after the election could free up a further £5billion.

However, Conservative MPs are already voicing alarm at the prospect of a largely cost-neutral Budget, with just months to go before an election and the tax burden heading for a post-war record.

And the latest Ipsos poll for the Standard found that the Tories were on 20 per cent support – down from 26 per cent last month, and lower than at any point since 1978.

Previous dark moments for the party include 22 per cent under John Major in May 1995, 23 per cent in July 1997 soon after Tony Blair came to power, and 23 per cent in December 2022 after the Liz Truss meltdown. 

The latest Ipsos poll for the Standard found the Tories were on 20 per cent support – down from 26 per cent last month, and lower than at any point since 1978

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt (pictured) and Rishi Sunak are still racing to finalise the crucial fiscal package, just 48 hours before it is due to be delivered.

Rishi Sunak

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt (left) and Rishi Sunak (right) are still racing to finalise the crucial fiscal package, just 48 hours before it is due to be delivered.

Mr Sunak visited an industrial park under construction in Swindon today ahead of the Budget

Mr Sunak visited an industrial park under construction in Swindon today ahead of the Budget

Conservative MPs are already voicing alarm at the prospect of a largely cost-neutral Budget, with just months to go before an election and the tax burden heading for a post-war record

Conservative MPs are already voicing alarm at the prospect of a largely cost-neutral Budget, with just months to go before an election and the tax burden heading for a post-war record

Former Cabinet minister John Redwood is among the Tories voicing concern about the plans

Former Cabinet minister John Redwood is among the Tories voicing concern about the plans

Ministers are scrambling for cash after the OBR ruled last week that Mr Hunt’s original tax-cutting plans were ‘unaffordable’ unless more money was found to pay for them.

The watchdog warned he had only about £6billion to play with – a tiny amount compared to Government spending of more than £1trillion a year. Mr Hunt confirmed yesterday that forecasts had ‘gone against us’.

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Mr Sunak has rejected Treasury proposals to tinker with the pension triple lock, but a string of other small tax rises are under consideration.

On a visit to Wilshire this morning, the PM claimed the UK economy is getting ‘on the right track’ as he visited the site of the former Honda car factory.

The Japanese car giant’s plant in Swindon shut in 2021 with the loss of thousands of jobs and the site was sold to developer Panattoni to turn into a logistics hub.

Tory MPs have criticised the OBR for effectively setting the framework for the Chancellor’s decisions by forecasting the leeway he has to meet fiscal rules.

The last time a Chancellor reached for late tax rises to balance his plans was in George Osborne’s so-called ‘omni-shambles’ Budget in 2012, when modest new taxes on pasties, caravans and church repairs had to be dropped following an outcry.

Former Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane said the Government’s fiscal rules were too focused on cutting debt and were ‘stunting growth’.

But in downbeat TV interviews yesterday, Mr Hunt said the Government had a duty to handle public finances responsibly. 

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He told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: ‘The most un-Conservative thing I could do would be to cut taxes by increasing borrowing – that’s just cutting taxes and saying future generations have to pick up the tax.

‘I won’t do that, but I do want, where it’s possible to do so responsibly, to move towards a lower-tax economy and I hope to show a path in that direction.

‘But this will be a prudent and responsible budget for long-term growth – tackling inflation, more investment, more jobs and that path to lower taxation as and when we can afford it.’

Personal taxes have been rising sharply, largely due to 'fiscal drag' as the government has not raised thresholds

Personal taxes have been rising sharply, largely due to ‘fiscal drag’ as the government has not raised thresholds

Mr Hunt and Mr Sunak (pictured last week) are looking for spending cuts and revenue-raising measures to free up cash to pay for a headline-grabbing tax cut in Wednesday's Budget

Mr Hunt and Mr Sunak (pictured last week) are looking for spending cuts and revenue-raising measures to free up cash to pay for a headline-grabbing tax cut in Wednesday’s Budget

Former Cabinet minister John Redwood said: ‘You do not start a tax-cutting Budget with a range of new taxes and tax rises.’ 

One government insider told MailOnline that elements of the package were ‘being confirmed as and when’ possible. 

Research by the think-tank More In Common yesterday found Britons favour cuts to income tax and council tax above other potential Budget measures – and that most voters blame ministers for the recession. Director Luke Tryl, a former Tory adviser, called the Budget a ‘do or die’ moment for the Tories.

Mr Sunak wants a 2p cut in income tax to show the Tories are serious about reducing the record peacetime tax burden.

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But it would cost £14billion, and some insiders believe he will have to settle for reducing National Insurance by a similar amount, which would cost £10billion but help fewer people.

Dennis Reed, of the pension campaign group Silver Voices, said the Chancellor ‘won’t win a single older voter back’ if ‘all he does’ is cut National Insurance.

Meanwhile, the Chancellor is to set aside £360million this week for R&D to make the UK a ‘world leader in manufacturing’.

Source: Daily Mail

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