BORIS Johnson has been warned he faces his first major revolt as PM if he ditches his pledge to keep fuel duty frozen.
Dozens of Tory MPs in ‘Red Wall’ seats are to write a letter to the new Chancellor Rishi Sunak next week warning him not to hike fuel duty.
Senior Conservative MP Robert Halfon said ending the freeze would anger millions who voted for the PM for the first time in December’s general election.
He said: “This is a number one cost of living indicator.”
He is drumming up support for the letter following our revelation earlier this week that the Treasury is considering hiking duty to raise £4billion a year. It would boost the Government’s green credentials ahead of the UN climate change conference in the summer.
Many in the so-called ‘Red Wall’ seats are said to be signing the letter, which will warn the PM that ending the fuel duty freeze after a decade would damage the Tories in the crucial seats they must keep to stay in power.
If more than 40 Tory MPs in those areas sign the letter they would have the numbers to defeat the PM in the Commons as he has an 80-seat majority.
KEEP IT DOWN
Fuel duty was frozen thanks to The Sun’s long-running Keep it Down campaign.
Analysis earlier this week showed how people in those seats — in the Midlands and the North — are far more reliant on their car than those in the south.
And an RAC study found more than a third of drivers — the equivalent of 14.7 million drivers — depend more on using their car than 12 months ago.
Tory MP Jack Lopresti said the Government must listen and deliver for voters who rely on their car as the only means of transport.
He said: “Hiking fuel duty would particularly hit people who voted Tory for the first time.
“We all believe that we need to put significant investment in public transport infrastructure but until that happens we should not be considering raising duty.”
The letter to Mr Sunak will be sent next week when MPs are back from their half-term break.
WORLD’S HIGHEST FUEL DUTY
The UK has the highest fuel duty in the world — charged at 58p per litre of diesel and petrol.
This is more than twice as much as Australian, which charges 22p per litre.
Even Germany has a lower rate than the UK, at 35p per litre for diesel and 55p for petrol.
The US state with the highest rate of fuel duty is California, which charges 28p per litre for petrol and 39p for petrol.
Howard Cox, founder of the FairFuelUK campaign, said: “We’ve been warned that even if it doesn’t happen this year it is back on the agenda and we need to start lobbying again.
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“We don’t just want them to continue with the freeze but to cut petrol duty. We are not against clean air — all our members want that but taxes and bans are not the way of achieving that.”
During the election, the PM told The Sun he had “absolutely no intention” of raising fuel duty.
But the pledge was left out of the Tory manifesto, raising fears the Treasury could hike the duty.