BoJo to Face ‘Significant Backlash’ from MPs Over Tax Hikes, Benefit Cuts, ‘Chaotic’ Afghan Pullout
07:44 GMT 06.09.2021 (Updated: 15:15 GMT 28.05.2023)
UK lawmakers reconvene following their summer break Monday, setting the stage for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to face a tough grilling from MPs over a spate of issues, ranging from proposed funding of social care reforms to the government’s “chaotic” handing of the Afghanistan crisis.
Boris Johnson is reportedly to face significant opposition from MPs on his plans to fix the crumbling social care system as the UK parliament returns after recess, reported Sky News.
The Prime Minister will also have to respond in the House of Commons to the heavy criticism that has been levelled at the government for its operation in Afghanistan, which the Labour Party branded as "chaotic".
In his speech, Johnson will purportedly thank the 150,000 British servicemen and women for their work in Afghanistan over the past 20 years, while praising the "courage and ingenuity" of all involved in the Kabul airlift, according to extracts of his statement to Parliament released by his office.
The Prime Minister is expected to underscore the UK’s commitment to wield “every economic, political and diplomatic lever to protect our country from harm and help the Afghan people".
While over 15,000 people were airlifted by the UK from Afghanistan’s, capital, Kabul, since 14 August, with more than 8,000 of them former Afghan staff and their family members, around 1,100 Afghans deemed eligible to leave are feared to have been left stranded.
The locals who aided British forces in the south-central Asian nation throughout the almost 20 years of Western presence in the country now face possible retribution from the Islamist group, known to have previously gone after those they branded “traitors”.
Boris Johnson is expected to also reveal new details about the resettlement programme for Afghans arriving to the UK in the coming years.
Earlier, when Parliament was urgently recalled on August 18 to debate the situation in Afghanistan, Johnson unveiled the government’s plans to take in up to 20,000 vulnerable Afghans in the long-term as part of a resettlement plan. Up to 5,000 Afghans would be relocated in the UK in the first year, according to the scheme, to eventually grant relocation to Britain to a total of 20,000 Afghans.
Controversial Social Care Reforms
The UK Prime Minister’s possible plans to hike national insurance while cutting the Universal Credit uplift are another issue that is reportedly to inflame tensions. Johnson is expected to reveal controversial reforms to social care in a fix estimated to cost £10bln. While not yet officially announced, the plans to increase national insurance to fund the reforms have already unleashed criticism.
Former chancellor Lord Hammond was cited as warning of "very significant backlash" if Johnson goes ahead with what is branded a “manifesto-breaking” move.
"I think that if the government were to go ahead with the proposed increase in National Insurance contributions, breaking a manifesto commitment in order to underwrite the care costs of older people with homes, I think that would provoke a very significant backlash," Lord Hammond said on Times Radio.
The 2019 Conservative Party manifesto had contained a personal "guarantee" from Johnson not to raise income tax, VAT or National Insurance.
Jacob Rees-Mogg also called to mind the political price that former US President George H.W. Bush paid for breaking his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge at the 1988 Republican National Convention. Subsequently, Bush raised taxes and lost the next election to Bill Clinton.
The leader of the House of Commons voiced his disapproval in his column in the Sunday Express.
Meanwhile, ex-Chancellor Lord Kenneth Clarke told LBC radio the mulled plan "too heavily weighted on the lower paid". Former Prime Minister John Major warned against adopting the "regressive" move.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid is said to be pushing for a 2 percent increase, according to The Times.
Boris Johnson is also reportedly planning to break the “triple lock” commitment, setting a cap on a rise in the state pension. The lock commits the government to increasing the state pension in line with inflation or wages or 2.5%, whichever is highest.
Boris Johnson is also under pressure from charities, campaigners and Tory MPs over plans to stop the £20 uplift to Universal Credit handed out during the COVID-19 pandemic from the beginning of October. Recipients could lose £1,040 annually if the plan is implemented, with critical MPs and charities cited as warning that Boris Johnson is driving families into poverty.
*A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.