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Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has urged the Tory party to strengthen the case for lower taxes and “better articulate” its values.
He said the Conservatives must push their core beliefs if they are serious about keeping Jeremy Corbyn out of Number 10.
His comments suggest a redoubling of efforts within the Cabinet to reassure high-earners they will not face an income tax rise, which Theresa May failed to rule out during the general election.
Speaking at a reception hosted by the Policy Exchange think tank last night, Sir Michael also dealt with a series of embarrassing briefings against Chancellor Philip Hammond by saying his colleagues must display “military discipline”.
He added: “In this summer of warm Prosecco, I think we in the Cabinet would also do well to reflect on military virtues — loyalty, discipline and cohesion — that might better enable us to first to concentrate our fire on a dangerous enemy within reach of Downing Street, somebody who would lower our defences, scrap our deterrent, weaken our response.
“Second, to better articulate the moral case for lower taxation, honest public financing for wider opportunity, enterprise and ownership — the Conservative case.”’
Sir Michael has long advocated lower taxation, and alongside Boris Johnson he categorically ruled out an income tax rise during the party’s election campaign.
Its manifesto said the party was committed to lower taxation but the Defence Secretary’s speech may be a nudge to Mrs May to stay on course despite the difficult election result.
After weeks of rumour on potential challengers to Mrs May, backbench Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said he would not make an attempt to become party leader should the vacancy arise.
He said it had been flattering that a petition had been launched to get him to No 10, but added: “I can’t help but be flattered. But I’m not taking it seriously.
“I don’t think it’s wise to have ambitions above one’s station. But I love being a Tory MP.”
Conservative MPs said today they were looking to have their “spirits lifted” today by Mrs May in the last Prime Minister’s Questions before the Commons breaks for the summer recess.
One backbencher said: “In the last few weeks she has regained in her confidence and she’s put in increasingly strong performances.
“PMQs is a key point in the week for morale. If she puts in a good performance today that will give us a lift before the summer.”
MPs were gearing up for a showdown on tuition fees across the despatch box ahead of Labour’s emergency three-hour debate on plans to raise fees by a further £250.
One Tory said: “They’re going to be humiliated on their promise to offer free student fees. Something they promised has now turned into an ‘ambition’. Frankly it’s this sort of hypocrisy that gives politics a bad name.”
Meanwhile, German MEP Hans-Olaf Henkel accused EU negotiator Michel Barnier of trying to “punish” Britain, as the latest Brexit talks entered their third day in Brussels.
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