Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Lib Dem rebel, er... doesn't rebel

The Cornish ringleader of a Liberal Democrat revolt over the VAT hike abandoned his opposition and voted to back the move in the House of Commons.

St Ives MP Andrew George lahas defended his surprise decision, claiming he wanted to give a “fair wind” to the government but would continue to demand ministers do more to “justify” the rise to 20 per cent planned for January.

Despite defying his party leadership to table an amendment to the Finance Bill over the increase - which he claims will hit the poorest hardest - Mr George followed hundreds of Tories and Lib Dems to vote in favour of the move.

Just two Lib Dems – Bob Russell and Mike Hancock – joined Labour MPs to oppose the measure, which is expected to raise £13 billion-a-year.

Mr George has called for an inquiry into how the rise in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent will affect businesses, charities and households across the income spectrum.

He told MPs: "I believe that the impact assessment of the type that I have described is one that, reasonably, I think the Government should be bringing forward."

Mr George said "on balance I wish to give the Budget a fair wind at this stage", and welcomed measures including the rise in the personal tax allowance, a key Lib Dem policy which survived the coalition deal with the Tories.

It ain't over yet, is the gist of his message.

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