Momentum growing for campaign against fuel tax hike

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By a Newsnet reporter

Forty MPs from across nine parties and one independent have now pledged to support the SNP clause to scrap the 3p rise in fuel duty in August. 

The campaign, backed by Fairfuel UK, has steadily grown since it was launched last week with support from businesses, individuals and politicians from across the UK.

The MPs have pledged to support a clause drafted by the SNP to amend the budget and cancel the planned 3 pence rise in fuel duty.  It will be tabled at earliest opportunity, when the budget has completed committee stage in late June. 

If passed, the amendment would force the Treasury into another budget U-turn.  

The Treasury has already U-turned on unpopular budget measures three times in the past week with the pasty tax, static caravans and charity donations all seeing Chancellor George Osborne reconsider key policy areas.  Campaigners hope that growing public opposition to a hike in fuel bills at a time of wage restraints and worries about the economy will lead the Treasury to reverse its decision on fuel tax.

All SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs have signed up in support of the amendment, as have 14 Labour MPs, including Central Ayrshire MP Brian Donohoe and Dumfries and Galloway’s Russell Brown.  MPs from all the Northern Irish parties as well as George Galloway of Respect have also backed the amendment.  

In addition 3 Conservatives and one Lib Dem have signed in support of the motion, although it runs contrary to their government’s position.  

The willingness of a handful of Coalition MPs to break ranks in support of a reversal of the hike in fuel duty points to wider disquiet amongst the government’s backbenches.  Campaigners against the price rise are growing increasingly optimistic that they may yet secure sufficient support to force the government to climb down.

SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP, who is leading the campaign at Westminster, said:

“It’s fantastic news that after just one week forty MPs have signed up for action on fuel.  Politicians are throwing aside party differences and uniting on this crucial issue to help boost our stagnating economy.

“The SNP clause to scrap the 3 pence fuel hike is a clear and effective way for the Treasury to take action now.  We already have the highest fuel taxes in Europe, with 81.5p going to the Treasury in fuel duty and VAT on every litre sold.  Scrapping the clause will ease the burden on households and businesses across the country and, crucially, it will help get the economy moving again.

“The campaign is growing fast both inside and outside the parliament. With the UK Government already U-turning on pasties, caravans, skips and the charity tax, there is no excuse not to listen to the hundreds of thousands of people who are calling for an end to this highway robbery.”