Chancellor George Osborne has been accused of insulting voters after claiming that forcing people to pay a higher rate of tax is ‘good for them’ because it makes them feel more successful and likely to vote Conservative.
The Tory Chancellor’s comments were made in a secret meeting at his Downing Street office – the contents of which were leaked to the Mail on Sunday.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Osborne is reported to have said: “Let’s not forget there are advantages in more people paying tax at 40p. It means they feel they are a success and joining the aspirational classes.”
He continued: “That means they are more likely to think like Conservatives and vote Conservative. If they are paying 40p tax they have a greater interest in cutting Government spending because they are paying for it. All the polling evidence suggests I am right.”
The disclosure comes as Mr Osborne is poised to announce a rise in the threshold of income tax while rejecting pleas to stop more middle earners being brought into the higher tax band.
One Tory MP described a ‘stunned silence’ in the room and said it was a ‘Marie Antoinette moment.’
Another is reported to have told Mr Osborne that his argument was ‘illogical’, saying: “You cannot argue that making more people pay 40p tax is good because they are more likely to want to cut government spending, while letting more people at the bottom end pay no tax whatsoever.”
The Chancellor’s claim was made at a meeting with senior Tory MPs on the executive of the party’s 1922 Committee on February 5.
The Chancellor’s team later contacted Tory tax rebels ordering them to stay quiet.