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Rishi Sunak Considered Resigning Due to Rift With BoJo Over National Insurance Hike, Media Says

© AFP 2023 / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVASBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (R) leave 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly cabinet meeting in London on October 13, 2020 held at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (R) leave 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly cabinet meeting in London on October 13, 2020 held at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.03.2022
The national insurance hike has become a contentious issue inside the ruling Conservative Party, with many legislators voicing their opposition to the idea. Critics note that it violates the party's 2019 manifesto not to raise taxes. Prime Minister Johnson said the move is vital to the UK's economic recovery.
Rishi Sunak's relationship with Prime Minister Boris Johnson is "complicatedly disintegrated" and the chancellor has even "considered resigning" due to a row with the PM over a national insurance hike, The Telegraph has reported, citing a Tory legislator.
The insider stated that Mr Sunak reportedly made the comment when the prime minister was pondering over scrapping the planned 1.25 percent increase as he faced opposition from fellow party members as well as calls to resign over his involvement in the so-called "Partygate" scandal.
A source from the Treasury, however, dismissed the report, telling The Telegraph that any allegation that the chancellor was contemplating leaving his post was "not true".
People close to Rishi Sunak told the newspaper that the official was frustrated with the prime minister potentially making a U-turn on the tax hike both men had agreed upon in the autumn.

"This is not serious government", Sunak told Johnson as per one insider.

In the end, both men wrote an article in The Sunday Times in January, where they argued that the move is the "right" decision.

The 1.25 percent rise in National Insurance, which will be introduced in April, will be paid both by employers and employees and is designed to help the country's economy, which suffered one of the worst financial crises since the Second World War.
The measure will also help to deal with the problems that have been plaguing the UK health service and social care, namely, the growing costs of funding, reducing the number of waiting lists, dealing with staff shortages, as well as helping the care system to look after older people and individuals with high-care needs.

Commenting on the decision Rishi Sunak said the following:

"I did not get into politics to have to put up people's taxes. I am a Conservative chancellor. But I also take seriously my responsibility to you, our kids, and to the nation's finances, making sure we fix the problems. And with coronavirus, our borrowing went up to levels we haven't seen since World War Two. And our debt was forecast to just keep growing and growing into the future. I didn't think that was morally right. I didn't think it was economically responsible".

Yet, many MPs have disagreed with the idea of raising taxes and voiced strong opposition to the move. They point to the rising cost of living.

"Taxes are at an abnormally high level. The Conservatives need to get back to being a tax-cutting government. We need supply-side reform and government efficiency to ensure growth and pay for tax cuts. But the national insurance rise is a matter for the chancellor", said Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency Jacob Rees-Mogg.

As for a potential rift between Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, this is not the first time that news of discord between the two has appeared in local media. UK outlets previously reported that the two disagreed on plans towards a zero-carbon economy, with the Treasury warning of serious economic damage if the government misdirects or overspends on green energy.

Aside from that, the media tipped Rishi Sunak to become the country's new prime minister when Johnson faced calls to resign in response to the "Partygate" scandal. Johnson, as well as other members of his Cabinet, were pictured partying during COVID-19 lockdowns, which was a violation of the very rules the authorities themselves set. Media speculated that photos were leaked by Sunak's team.

Johnson has dismissed reports of a rift, saying Downing Street and the Treasury are "working together in harmony".
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